tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN December 28, 2012 2:00pm-8:00pm EST
be your investments in your 401-k t value of your house, if your equity goes down that can hurt and change consumer behavior. host: i doubt federal workers would seek alternate employment. our line for democrats, good morning. caller: good morning. i am one of the middle i am one of the middle class. class. i have a few things i have to say, because i am very dissatisfied. treating the president is right. first, what he said four years
ago, whatever plan he had then is over with. this is a new election. the deal that he had a year ago, that does not count. for republicans and people to say they don't understand what's going on, i have a problem with that. the republicans deny anything he puts forward. the president left his vacation and came here. they're not being fair. republicans say they are christians. they're not. they did this during his last term and now are causing and all of us to suffer because they don't like the president. this is personal. this has nothing to do with raising taxes. this is a personal attack and i think it's a shame. we look like a third world country. we don't look like the united states. host: let's get a republican voice. our next caller is calling from
west bloomfield, michigan, on the republican line. good morning. caller: i would like to get your thoughts on a balanced approach and have unbiased taxation by using a flat tax. that way you can calculate the amount of taxes we need for the deficit over 10 years. another point is to control the spending on entitlements by not giving millionaires social security benefits, thereby satisfying president obama's approach. instead of doing it through taxation, he can do it through the entitlements. guest: those are both ideas that have been raised, especially the social security and medicare benefits for the wealthy and potentially might not need them to live off of. one tricky part of that is wealthier americans have been paying these taxes for decades
into social security and medicare if and a lot of folks have a problem with the idea of taking away their benefits they have paid for if just because they happen to be more well off. and issued the first caller raised and something to watch is this could really sort of set the tone for the president's second term. if this thing gets ugly and stays ugly, it's probably going to stay that way at least another year or two, and the next thing you know, he's a lame duck president. if we cut a deal and move on and he brings congress with him, we will see a new political atmosphere in washington. at this point it seems like more of the same. host: from facebook -- guest: one thing i a lot about yesterday was this is really raising the question of canada to be cut?
is it politically possible in this environment to get enough republicans and democrats to support a deal that the white house wants on deficit reduction? because they been to the altar so many times on this same issue, taxes, medicare, social security, defense spending, you must wonder, if there's any agreement possible. host: first, commented today from the senate republican leader mitch mcconnell, who will join his colleagues later today at the white house. [video clip] >> i told the president last night we would be happy to look at whatever he proposes. the truth is we are coming up against a hard deadline. as i said, this is a conversation we should have had months ago. republicans are not about to write a blank check or anything senate democrats before or just because we find ourselves at
the edge of the cliff. that would not be fair to the american people. that said, we will see what the president has to propose. members on both sides will review it. then we will decide how best to proceed. hopefully, there's still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a preventable economic crisis. host: damian paletta. guest: senator mcconnell is a pro at this kind of negotiation. he's going into this white house meeting saying, give us your proposal, let us see what you want to do, we will be willing to look at whatever you present. the potential problem is what the white house will present is something they are presented before that senator mcconnell has said no to. either the white house will get more creative so that they will have something host: they can
look at this photograph of the democratic leader harry reid in the "new york times, returning to the u.s. capitol. his shadow. what's the relationship between harry reid and mitch mcconnell? guest: it's hard to tell. the rhetoric on the senate floor can be pretty tough. they call each other my dear friend whenever you want them on the c-span channels, but i think they both are in a frustrating position. senator harry reid does not have more than 60 members, so we cannot block a filibuster but senator mcconnell is adept at applying in cases where he'd want to block legislation. but i think they both have respect for each other's legislative skills and they have proven in the past that when they need to cut a deal, but can cut a deal and bring their party's members with them. host: john mccain writes a big budget deal is still worth doing. he points out to the history of some of these agreements, most
notably with ronald reagan in the 1980's and president bush in 1991 in which republicans agreed to spending cuts that never happened while raising taxes. guest: that's right. there's a little confusion about how much spending cuts happened. it's the same sort of formula both sides are pursuing this time. you lock in the tax increases on the front end. then you come back later, six months, nine months, 12 months and find spending cuts in defense programs and set them into law. if you're among republicans is if you reach an agreement now and agree to tax increases, the spending cuts will get undone or never will be followed through on. that's one of the things that has held back talks, because republicans are skeptical that democrats will follow through. host: charles is on the independent line from colorado. caller: good morning, steve. i listened to it the myopic dogma in this segment over and
over. the only people i can blame on this are the american people. the people who sit here and listen to these guys that are extremists and and they vote him into office -- them into office. i hear people say let's get rid of epa. if you look at how much epa takes out of our budget, that's like worrying about nothing gary people need to turn off the tv and start studying more. crack some books. look at economic spirit trickle-down economics does not work. name a country where it has worked? maybe estonia. but it's not working in greece. i heard a great saying that
says when time gets tough, everyone is a keynesian. turn off the tv. not c-span of course. but turn off the news channels that are just cramming this stuff, and get involved in this before you formulate an opinion. i think we would be voted into office smarter, better people that are not tea party extremists. how about if on the democratic side grover norquist had said never cut any spending? i'm going to sign a bill that says never cut and spending. grover norquist, here's a great example, he does not even believe in economic case multipliers. host: gary says --
guest: what's interesting about the last election cycles is we had under president bush and the end, democrats seized control of congress in big numbers. and we had the big democratic sweep with the white house in 2008. 2010, republicans came sweeping back. we've had a pendulum swing, very contractive time period. that's one of the factors. we have seen both sides really dug in because they don't know where the pendulum will swing in the next direction. -- eklection. host: from one of our viewers -- on facebook -- guest: that's right. one of the points she raises is it's easy to look and collectors and say we will just
drop 10% of this program and 20% off that program. but when you get down to the individual programs, we're talking state and local police departments, fire departments, teachers' pay, all sorts of programs that have different constituencies that you would feel the impact of some of these cuts. what speaker doug a.s. said is we need to look a programs and decide what we need from there. it has been more looking at the bigger picture. host: what led to the fiscal cliff? guest: the fiscal cliff is the combination of a bunch of different tax and spending decisions made by washington, dating back over the past 12 years. we had the bush tax cuts that began in 2001 and 2003. we extended them under president obama. those are set to end on monday. $110 billion in annual spending
cuts were agreed to under president obama as part of the debt ceiling negotiation. those begin on tuesday. we have the payroll tax cut in place for two years, takes about two percentage points off people's taxes, bill will end on monday. business tax breaks, bill will end on monday. the alternative minimum tax, which is confusing, but it would be a disaster if that was not taken care of, because it would raise the taxes of about 30 million americans for their 2012 income and 2013. and all the confusion could screw up the whole tax filing season. who knows when you will be filing your taxes, because the irs does not know which tax rates will be applied and who will be responsible for paying what. so it's going to be a mess if this is not handled quickly. host: if we are sitting here a month from now after the inauguration and there's still no final agreement on taxes, could that the label 15 --
guest: no doubt about it. secretary dieter even said that a few days ago. --secretary tim geithner. it could delay the tax filings. the government relies on august revenue to come in and it usually comes flooding in during march and april. people need to pay their taxes, but they don't know which tax rules will apply. host: the other deadline is the debt limit. here at $16.4 trillion. guest: >> the treasury department can stop funding federal pensions and do some other maneuvers, essentially to buy them another six weeks of time. we all at this last year. closer they get to that is when financial markets will start going crazy.
the debates we are having now about tax and spending will likely be the same debates we are having six weeks from now. host: there's the u.s. debt clock. you can also see how much that is for individuals and what protection is moving ahead. our guest is damian paletta of the wall street journal. the covers finances and congress and the white house. his work is available online. from the senate floor yesterday, these comments by the senate democratic leader harry reid. [video clip] >> the speakership all members of the house back to washington today. he should not give let them go. they are not here. they are not here. john boehner seems to care more about keeping his speakership than about keeping the nation on sound financial footing. it's obvious what's going on around here. he is waiting until january 3 to get reelected as speaker before we get serious with the negotiations, because he has so many people over there that will
not follow what he wants. that's obvious from the debacle that took place last week's. host: referring to the vote yesterday on speaker boehner's plan b. guest: they might feel they have better numbers in the house than they do now later. he would be able may be to push a plan through without as much republican support. i doubt it. it would be really risky move and then we are in early january without a deal still. host: that's what you wrote in the washington journal this morning -- the wall street journal. republicans participating in a conference call yesterday said --
guest: that's right. the republicans feel like if they wait this out, they might have a clean slate on the taxes to work with. it would not be accused of increasing taxes if taxes have already gone up on their own. maybe republicans might be more willing to accept some tax increases then. host: our topic is the fiscal cliff as the deadline looms. we welcome our radio audience on excedrin channel 119. there's a meeting at 3:00 this afternoon at the white house and we will have cameras outside the west wing if the principles come out to speak.
guest: i don't think this is the perfect dupe. if they can drag the meeting out for an hour, connect markets will close at 4:00 on friday. asian markets don't open until sunday. we will have a situation where they will speak to the microphone and the economy will not collapse, nor will be asian market. host: is that one of the reasons for the late time of the meeting? guest: they would not back to worry about the financial market reaction and maybe get down to business. host: the president has his own private plane. guest: he's done it before. host: angeles joining us on the democratic line for maryland. caller: good morning. i have a story i would like to see the washington journal do or basically any media outlets
in relation to. the to if the tea party is called the taxed enough party, why would they not protest like they did with obamacare? where is all the protest in front of the capital if they are so big on texas? -- on taxes? we are three days away from getting taxes raised. guest: we have seen a couple stories in recent days about the tea party influence in these talks or lack of influencing the talks. this is one of those tricky issues. a conversation is all about the deficit. the problem is how aggressive will they go after the deficit and what mix of spending cuts and tax increases will be part of the negotiations? it is a wait-and-see approach. whatever decision is made will annoy some interest groups, whether it aid charities or the housing industry or teachers, but the party. we will see some swift reaction. at this point, it's hard to
know what to protest, because the deal is in flux and has fallen apart so many times. host: let another scenario on the table. a recent agreement on the fiscal cliff, another big issue will be raising the debt limit their there's also the issue of immigration,, the president wants to bring up in his state of the union. and the issue of maybe an assault weapon ban that could, and congress. some big ticket items. how important is it for the white house to get this out of the way? guest: incredibly. the president told second term hinges on getting this address and put aside because he cannot keep coming back every six months to deal with brinksmanship about federal spending. it's not like they can come back in the year. these things have to be addressed. late march, we could have another government shutdown because the government spending bill lapses on march 27. we cannot be in a situation where we keep coming back and dealing with this. if not everything else off the
desk and consumes a ton of time and erodes the relationship with congress in the meantime. host: a tweet -- guest: i might disagree with that. although there's an argument to be made up the closed door talks don't work. in 2011 there was a lot of closed door conversation on the hill and at the white house between the speaker and president obama. they got to the edge and almost had a handshake deal and did not end up falling through. a similar situation this time, a lot of. closed door of a lot of party leaders feel it's impossible to have conversations in the open in negotiations because they would just get the blowback immediately from different interest groups. there's also a lot of lawmakers
in both parties that children need to be more transparency so the public can know with their elected officials are doing. host: damien is joining us on the republican line from louisville, ky. caller: good morning. host: i want to ask you about the republican leader from your own state, mitch mcconnell, and his role in these negotiations. how is he doing as a republican? caller: is doing pretty good. host: go ahead with your comment. caller: i really don't see much on the fiscal cliff. if they make a deal, either way they go, it will hurt. by the time 2014 gets here and when obamacare kicks in, it will cost me so much that i will have to quit work. it will be worth more for me to be on welfare than to keep working and just working for nothing but health care. host: we will get a response.
guest: this is something a lot of people are waiting to see what the impact of that law is going to have. a lot of that, the major provisions don't kick in until now and in the next few years. everyone will wait to see what the impact on the economy will be. there's a big disagreement about what will happen. host: this new york times piece gives a sense of the mood in washington. let's read the first paragraph or two. guest: this is only the fourth time since the 1930's they have had to come back after christmas to do work. this is uncharted territory.
no one really wanted to be in a situation, but it was a factor of them having to wait until after the election to start negotiating these things and then they did not have the time they needed. the process proved too cumbersome with democrats going one way and republicans going and ever. it was not the cohesiveness we expected. host: the house coming back sunday night for votes just in time day redskins versus cowboys games will happen. guest: i'm sure they would hope to have a debate and vote on quickly so they can get out of fear. -- of here. they cannot be illustration where they are not here if we go sailing off the fiscal cliff. they cannot be back in their districts campaigning or fund- raising. host: our next call is charles from california, on the democratic line. you are on with damian paletta of the wall street journal. >> we will break away. live now to the capital. that is senator ben nelson from
caller: the other thing is harry reid has not voted on over 40 bills the republicans have put up there, and he blames republicans. , isopod you were supposed to bring bills up there and talk about them and vote on then. they have not pass a budget in over four years. they are not being responsible for that. guest: that is what makes him such a powerful figure. they said we sent you the legislation that would help the deficit cannot help create more jobs, and democrats in the senate have not acted. democrats say those are partisan bills with no bipartisan
support. that is why the leader -- senate leader reid is going to be at the white house today because his signing off on anything is vital. guest: one of the things we sell was financial markets to end it out mostly until the end. we saw a huge swings on a daily basis. the week after, they had the standard and poor's downgrade of
the u.s. debt rating. we have had this slow erosion, but things will get volatile next week if we are still in this situation. edmajority leader harry reid yesterday said we might not even have time to get a deal even if we reach an agreement, just because of the mechanics of the house and senate and how long it takes to pass legislation. i think if they get a deal, they can somehow get it through. there's no room for error. if they come out of the meeting at the white house today and everyone shrugged their shoulders and says there's no way we can do this, that sends a signal to the american people cliff. host: what do you think? guest: we're going over the cliff probably. republicans are so dug in on this issue. they got into the house and senate based on their views on taxes, medicare, social
security. it is hard to imagine in the next three days they will have some huge concession and reversed the views they have held 20, 30, 40 years. at the same token, maybe they will say what will happen to the economy is so damaging that i have to compromise my position, and that will require me to back off my positions i've held a long time. host: if the speaker is able to convince a handful of republicans and democrats will convince house republicans, they have a majority. guest: that's right. then you would not have the question of how long the speaker will be the speaker, if he requires a ton of democrats to support the president's proposal. we will have to see whether both sides decide to put country before party or whether they feel their position really
is the right position and the best course of action for this country. they will have to make that decision in the next 12 hours. host: roger in des moines, iowa, independent line. caller: good morning. i've got a question. arithmetic's. independent. would somebody take a pencil? the bush tax cuts are about $500 billion a year, i am hearing. the tax breaks that the rich get, it's $85 billion. the bush tax cuts that the president has been bragging about that only for the rich, $450 billion a year is to the middle class and lower middle class people.
so, if everybody says let's go back to the clinton tax rates, that is the clinton tax rates. also, on more spending, the iraq war, we pulled the people out. on c-span about two months ago i turned it on a senate armed services committee. one not seen anybody report this. the state department sent in private contractors at a cost greater than if we would've had our troops in there. it is a fact right now, the figures don't lie, but liars figure. host: thanks for the call. guest: the president's proposal to roll back the bush tax rates for upper-income americans would raise probably about $100
billion a year. that includes higher tax rates on income earned over $250,000, higher estate taxes, and more. it's not going to solve our deficit problem, but it will have an impact. the question is, is that enough, too much, too little, when you combine it with spending cuts, to reduce the deficit to more stable level over the years? host: what we have seen in these negotiations between the principals, how does that portend in terms of what we will see in the next congress? guest: it's hard to tell. this tax and spending stuff is such a dna part of both parties. they have been fighting about this. the clinton administration, the bush administration, the reagan
administration, and they've been fighting about the same issues for years. gun control is harder to tell. the national mood on that is much different. immigration, i think, both parties can learn some lessons from the election. that egg has been scrambled a little prevent will be an interesting debate to watch. this fiscal debate continues, we deal with the debt ceiling, the potential government shutdown, for all these issues dragon to 2013, it will lead over into a well and will challenge the president in his second term on how he can handle congress. host: let me restate the comments that you said earlier, "we are at the 11th-hour." guest: that's right. they have thrown a hail mary pass and the clock is running out. will we catch the ball or will we go over the cliff is the question. host: thanks for being with us, damian paletta. guest: my pleasure. >> you're looking at a live
picture of the white house. about a half hour from now, senate and congressional leaders meeting at the white house with president obama. we're standing by to hear from john mccain, scheduled shortly to speak on the subject of filibuster or form. we will stand by to bring you news as it happens. we had a chance as part of our ongoing series covering the impact of the impacts of the fiscal cliff on health care. let's take a look at that. host: we will continue our look at the so-called fiscal cliff and its impact on taxes on spending. today we focus on the issue of medicare. our guest is mary agnes carey, senior health correspondent for kaiser health news.
how is medicare funded? guest: it is funded by payroll taxes. part b is the outpatient services and funded by premiums and general revenue. host: does it pay for itself? guest: the needs are met and the trustees say the program is funded through 2024 with the reduction in the healthcare law to providers. 50 million people rely on this program. it benefits individuals over the age of 65. a lot of people depend on it. host: what is the current budget for medicare?
guest: about $550 billion for this year. host: does that include the premiums that seniors pay? guest: what they pay it will go to the payments that will go to the doctors that care for the beneficiary. host: how much is coming out of general revenue? guest: the beneficiaries pay 25% of the program in part b. in part d, you have about 32 beneficiaries that are on the program. host: medicare is divided into four parts. part a is hospital insurance.
host: how did the affordable care act change medicare? guest: it will take $716 billion away from medicare providers. the payments will still grow. providers of care will see their reimbursements decrease. beneficiaries receive some new services. they will get some help if they are enrolled in the drug program. they will be helped to close the donut hole. host: how is medicare being looked at?
guest: medicare providers will be cut by 2%. providers will be cut. there was an estimate about a month ago and that medicare would be hit $11 billion next year. the payment reductions would amount to that amount of money. 2% across the board to providers. host: a proposal to raise the medicare eligibility age. guest: the negotiators would lay out perhaps a target number of spending reductions to be attained in 10 years. one is to increase the eligibility age and this is happening
already in social security. there is a rush of baby boomers. there's a lot of opposition from seniors group and democrats and others who say this is simply a shift. the senate on to employers that might keep those employers on their health insurance and that will cost them more. the individuals may have to spend more to get health insurance. those folks may go to that program and get a subsidy. the argument against it is a shift in cost. host: what about means testing? guest: this is already in current law.
if you earn $85,000 as a single, you pay more for your share of the premiums. one idea is the idea of looking at those figures and say how could we adjust the provision to get more revenue? the health law freezes the current threshold. there was a proposal until 25% of beneficiaries are paying for their premiums. this is an area that could be the basis for some bipartisan agreement. host: medicare spending in 2006, $403 billion.
host: if there is no agreement beneficiary cuts. is that correct? guest: the providers are facing a 2% cut on sequestration will complain to their patients that washington is taking too much from them. >> a picture of the u.s. capitol, where senators and congressman are traveling down pennsylvania avenue with a
meeting at the white house with president obama. also expecting to hear from senator john mccain talking about a filibuster or form, a subject that will be much on the minds of senators as the new senate begins next week. we will cover the white house for you and keep an eye on when mr. mccain comes out. there was an event outside earlier, senator tom harkin from iowa, the democrat, gathered some folks to do a press conference talking about the fiscal cliff and the impact of those spending cuts. let's look at that now and we will wait for senator mccain. >> ok. are we ready? good morning.
welcome to the cold morning press conference outside of the senate office building. i'm the executive director and i am one of the nuns on the bus. [laughter] we are here to continue the message that our congress needs to find a solution to the facing. we gather today as a broad coalition of all sorts of members from the washington advocacy community and people from all around the country to stand here together to say we need a conagra's that governs. problems. we are especially concerned today about lifting up middle- class families who were so apprehensive about the future and the working poor who get
keep -- keep getting pushed far. it is my great honor to introduce one of the members of the senate who is pushing for a reasonable solution and, reasonable revenue for responsible programs. senator harkin has been an advocate for years. he represents the state of iowa and he knows what the middle class is struggling with. it is with great pleasure that i introduce to you senator harkin. [applause] >> isn't she wonderful? thank you, sister simone. that is the best speech ever given. it was wonderful.
let's face it. this is a manufactured crisis. it is that a real crisis inherent in our system. it is manufactured by the republicans. it is manufactured by the republicans who refuse to ask those with the most in our society to give a little bit more to make our country work. the republicans who held hostage in order to keep us from raising the debt ceiling. it was the republicans in manufactured this in the first place in 2002 when they took the bush tax cuts for the wealthy by saying they would expire in 2012, a gimmick. it was a budget gimmick to do that. republicans are holding hostage
the middle class in america so that the wealthy don't have to pay their fair share. it is the republicans who are willing to let millions of americans rely upon an informant and insurance, to have that ended for them in just a few short days, people who have been out of work for over six months. republicans are holding them also. it is a manufactured crisis. what we are here to say is, first of all, i hope all of you agree with me, but no deal is better than a bad deal. no deal is better than a deal -- >> we'll take you back to the capitaol now. live coverage on c-span. >> yeah, right here.
-- .> it's 3:15 now >> we are going to get the deal? >> on this issue, i think we're making progress. >> you can see we are live in the u.s. senate radio-t.d. delphi. i gather they are waiting for somebody else. we were told they are going to speak about filibuster reform, although i will not be surprised to see a question on the fiscal cliff,.
we will stay live here as we wait for senator mccain to begin his briefing. 10 minutes from now, leaders meeting with the president at the white house, about the fiscal cliff. we'll cover that also on c-span. >> that is the biggest part of tit. the secretary of defense has said that if sequestration kicks in, it is a grave threat to national security. >> if it would come in slower -- >> we're just having a conversation. >> have said that sequestration as phases, so do have the debt ceiling fight coming up.
when you say that it faces and, you expect the pentagon to say we would just hold everything? certainly years, serving months ahead of time. they have to plan on how many people to have in their workforce -- in the force, recruiting. you cannot turn on a dime, like a huge oil tanker. >> john, we will focus on folks that we did not know who are here. we will come right back. don't go away. take five minutes. >> this is just -- >> we saw senators mccain and 11
decide they will come back in a couple of minutes. as we wait, back to something that took place earlier this morning outside the capital. -- the capitol. >> i want to thank you for being here to call on house republicans not to drop the ball on the middle-class. also for the house to show up for work, right? the president is down at the white house, senator harkin and his colleagues are here. they are out on a paid vacation right now. boehner walked out of the allegations with the present and then he walked out of the house and tell all members to go home while we are four days away from
going over the fiscal cliff. his members, the house members are on on a taxpayer-paid vacation while the country is four days away from hitting the middle class when we go over the fiscal cliff. number one, boehner, bring the house back now. show up to work. it is time for the house to do its work and show up. two, as senator harkin said, the ball right now is actually in the house of representatives court, because the senate has already pass a bill with a majority vote. this would extend middle-class tax cuts, and that bill is ront of theht in frie house. there is nothing preventing the house from taking that up-to-
date. they are still on vacation around the country, and if we were to take up that bill, i am confident it would also pass by majority vote in the house. now, what we are asking for is for the house to come back to work and to allow the house to work its will instead of turning over the keys to the to party caucus in the house republican party, because that is what boehner has done to this artificial world, a rule that is not in law, not in the constitution. he says he will not allow a vote in the house unless a majority of his republican members are in favor of gatt. even though a majority of the members of the house, duly elected by the american people, would vote for the senate- passed bill, he is saying that we will not allow you to vote.
in other words, he is giving veto power to the most extreme members of the tea party caucus. we have 435 members in the house. with speaker boehner is turning the keys of the car over to the most extreme 25 members of the house republican caucus and denying the people's house an opportunity for an up or down vote to protect the middle- class and prevent us from going over the fiscal cliff. speaker boehner, called the house back to work. do it now. sunday night or try to run out the clock. clock, the ball drops and we go over. bring the house back right now to do the people's work and
will. allow was to have an up or down vote on the senate-passed bill. it passed the senate with a majority vote. it can pass the house. the only thing speaker boehner is afraid of is that the bill will actually pass and then we would avoid going over the fiscal cliff, right? come back to work and let a majority in the house, republicans and democrats, work their will. let democracy work to protect the middle class. it is essential we pass the extension of unemployment insurance. that is why the president has been very clear on that since day one that it should be a part of any plan. these are people who are out of work through no fault of their own. they are looking for jobs in what is still a tough economy and providing unemployment benefits provide more security for those americans and their families, but it is good for everyone else also. those people have a little bit more money in their pockets to spend on goods and services to support their family which is good for everyone else. when they are spending money, businesses can sell more goods and services and we have some small business representatives here who know very well that the more people have money in their pockets, the more customers they have with money, the more they can sell their goods and services, and the better off thelet's get back to
work. allow the majority to work its will in the house and senate. out of or get on employment security but also the economic benefit of our entire country. god bless you all and thank you for being here. [applause] >> we will break away and take you to that radio and tv gallery on the senator side, to listen to senators levin and mccain. live on c-span. >> why don't we give them a
bunch over here? ok, sorry for the delay. we thought we had the vote, but there was no vote. senator mccain and i are part of a group of eight senators who have been working for about a month to come up with a proposal for our leaders and our conferences, which will hopefully overcome the gridlocked that has so permeated the u.s. senate. the eight senators who have participated in this effort are myself, senator mccain, senator schumer, senator alexander, senator cardin, senator kyle, senator prior, and senator
barasso. it is a bipartisan proposal and we believe strongly we must reform the senate's procedures if it is going to do business more efficiently and fairly. there are many parts to our proposal, i would say the key number-one part is to give the majority leader options to overcome the filibuster and the threat of a filibuster on a motion to proceed. that has been the greatest problem around here in terms of getting to the business of working on bills. we cannot get to bills if there is a filibuster or a threat of a filibuster on a motion to proceed, which has happened dozens of times and just takes a week to overcome that threat just to get to debate the bill. we spent days and days and days
trying to get a bill to the floor so it can be debated. our number one goal was to give the majority leader options to overcome that motion to proceed -- the filibuster to proceed, and we have two options that he has under the rules. the new options, number of one, would be that there would be four amendments that would be guaranteed right up at the beginning, two for the majority, two for the minority. you would see how that would work. and then after that, those four amendments are disposed of in the order indicated. we would then be right back on the regular order of the senate.
those amendments -- there could be a maid -- a motion to table those amendments, they could be filibustered, they could be offered side by side to the senate said the republican manager could offer the amendment and then the democratic manager could offer an alternative to that first amendment of the republican manager. then it would go to the the republican leader to offer an amendment. then the majority leader would have the final so-called privilege. we do all this by the standing order of the senate, which has the same effect as the rules, but requires 60 votes to be adopted. and we would sunset the standing order after two years so we could see how this worked out. there is another alternative, another option available to the majority and the minority leader.
then, it would go immediately to the bill. it would be agreed on by the two of them. in addition to what i have just described, the ways of getting the bill passed the blockages that exist here, there are other parts to this proposal. we would expedite going to conference. all three motions would be collapsed into one cloture, which would last two hours. no post-cloture time. we would add nominations, an expedited process of getting nominations directly to the calendar. we would allow the regular orders to apply to cabinet officers. the rule at the district court as indicated in this proposal --
their regular orders would not exist up to the point of closure, -- cloture, but post- cloture, would be up to district judges. this is an issue the majority has had to face. effectively you would say the post-cloture part of that, which is so troubling, given that they have 60 votes, that that 30-hour period would be reduced to a two-hour period. we also have a whole page you're on current practices in order to overcome the gaps -- here on current practices in order to overcome the doubts on the floor. where the majority leader alerts the senate of his intention -- and the presiding officer, as he can are under the current rules,
would if there are no senators seeking recognition -- we're not in the middle of a quorum call and there are no orders to the contrary -- then the presiding officer can put the question to the body. it has not been used. it is a way of addressing this filibuster by not doing anything. we are trying to stop that by merging our leaders. this is on page four. -- we're trying to stop out by urging our leaders -- this is on page 4 -- to stop that. this practice has been approved for a long time around here. if no senator seeks recognition, then the chair may put the question to overcome some of these filibusters' that so far have been able to succeed without anybody talking. we are trying to overcome that and those delays as well.
so, we are proposing on a bipartisan basis as a way to end the major sources of gridlock around here. to try to identify those major sources of gridlock and to address it by giving the majority leader the power to look through those blockages and to do it in a fair way by allowing the minority to offer amendments. again, this is a recommendation to our leaders and our conferences for them to participate in. of course, senator mccain has been my partner in this and so many other things. >> i want to thank senator levin, as usual comeuppance -- as usual, for his help. it has been a pleasure to work with him for many years. also want to thank senator carden, senator russell, senator
alexander. we have had numerous meetings. as we have seen this looming crisis appear on the horizon. right now, the country's attention and that of the media is on the fiscal cliff, and i understand that. economy of the nation and the world may be at stake here. i think that sooner or later, there will be some kind of an agreement. will we are talking about here is a fundamental change in the ruling, the possibility of a fundamental change in the way the senate does business peeping basically changing the rules of the senate from either 60 votes, sometimes 67, to 51 votes, which would make as no different than the house of representatives,
and of course would reduce us in many respects not to irrelevance in the minority party. here is the problem. on one side, the majority leader and the democrats are frustrated by their inability to move forward with legislation. every time there is an opposition to a motion to proceed, which takes days and then they proceed, and that has made the united states congress -- one of the reasons why the united states congress is judged the least productive congress since the year 1947. so, understandably the majority is frustrated with their inability to move legislation. on the other hand, the republicans, the minority in this case, are frustrated by our inability to propose amendments that will be voted on. now there has been a new
phenomenon in recent years, the years that senator levin and i have been in the senate, and that is called going up the tree. -- filling up the tree. that means no amendments are allowed. that is what that means keeping no amendments are allowed. then it is an everyday occurrence. almost routinely, with rare exceptions. on one hand, the majority understandably is terribly frustrated because they cannot move legislation. and we, the minority in this case -- we are not always going to be the minority, we know -- are frustrated by the fact we are unable to get amendments and issues that are important to us debated and voted on. so, that is your gridlock. and all of us are totally
frustrated with this gridlock. but we have shown from time to time, as we did with the defense authorization bill, that with the agreement between parties, not resorting to rules bytes, with agreement between parties you can move forward with legislative provisions, which we are about to do here. but the majority legislation is being blocked, and once the legislation is brought forward, there is an inability to bring that legislation to a conclusion and final vote. so, there is enormous frustration of the majority. the ones who are pushing this, i might point out, basically want to have a 51-vote rule be the governing principle. most of them honestly have never been in the minority.
those who have been in both majority and minority are the most reluctant to see this. so the majority leader senator reed feels very strongly the frustration. we understand that frustration. and there is the possibility that on january 3, the united states senate -- then a parliamentarian -- would overrule and it would require 51 votes to change the votes of the senate. that, my friends, would be a disaster leading to the destruction of the unique aspect of the unites -- united states senate as envisioned by our founding fathers. i also want to point out, i think that senator rudman -- senator levin described very well bringing up legislation and all of that with the hand out here. but i also want to point out
that the practices of the senate have been abused. senators now can call from their home state and stop progress on the floor of the senate. that cannot happen anymore. that cannot happen. if a senator was to block legislation, he or she should go to the floor of the senate and be there for that objection. and if there is no one on the floor to object and the senate is in session, the president of the senate should say, i move the bill. call for a vote. that is the way the senate is supposed to function. and it is not any more. so, we are not only proposing this standing order, which brings about two different options that the majority leader, in agreement with the minority leader, could implement, but we are also destroying the practices of the senate that are the rules of the senate -- restoring the
practices of the senate that are the rules of the senate. again, i want to thank senator 11. these are proposals. it will really be up to negotiations between senator reid and senator mcconnell. i really do not think most of us who have been up here for awhile want to see a nuclear situation where 51 votes could basically govern the way the united states senate functions. so, we are hopeful, both of us. we have greeted our respective caucuses at lunch today. concerns were raised. we had a vigorous discussion. senator levon's caucus was somewhat more vigorous than mine. we did have a vigorous discussion and hopefully this will prevent us from going over
to 51 votes on january 3. >> two comments. the current rule would not be amended. we would have a standing order which has the same effect as a rule to put in place to procedures which i have outlined. two additional procedures -- one of them is up to the majority leader by himself. that would be whether or not to proceed to a bill with this assurance of two amendments per side up front. the second additional option of the majority leader would be where there is a joint cloture petition. we will open it up to questions. this is consistent with senate rules 5. we do not break the rules to change the rules. we stopped a procedure which is
totally consistent with senate rule 5 which says the following -- the rules of the senate shall continue from congress to congress until they are changed as provided for by these rules, which of course is a two-thirds vote. the u.s. senate has never changed the rules of the majority rule. that is the nuclear option. changed the majority vote. we have never done that. there have been comments made as to whether that could be done or not. the current vice president is very strongly opposed to the nuclear option or the constitutional option. >> how can you tell if the most popular filibuster reform rule is to institute the talking filibuster? is that still on the table? >> if a person objects and there
is closure, that person can go to the floor for one hour. they can go up to 30 hours. they can. but the senator has to be on the floor. talking. the next question -- >> the next question is addressed by the practices section. we urge the leaders to address and make it clear that you must talk. you cannot not call. -- you cannot not talk. you cannot put in quorum call after quorum call. you can put in one quorum call. after that, there would not be additional quorum calls. under the current practices, which are described under the current rules, it has not been in force, and that is what page four is so important. there is the president of the
senate that if there is no one seeking to debate, then the chair may call for questions. and by the way, that is cloture or not cloture. >> [indiscernible] if it is not our rules change, what happened to that cost them? did it go out of style? >> it is not used. and it should be used. >> gradually. so, we end up now where people can talk from their home state and stop legislation. i have one additional common to what you are saying. -- comments to what you're saying. suggest there is one absence of the quorum. the chair can order that
conciliatory and out of order. that is another practice that needs to be enforced. >> someone has got to be on the floor making the point, whether it is the original senator -- >> yes. that is the current rule, which we believe should be enforced. >> the order addresses the issues that senator mccain just described. >> so the absence of the quorum would be called into question -- >> the key here, look -- the key here is what we're giving to the majority leader. the discretion to move to a bill. that is not something which is a practice, which needs to be enforced under current rules. that needs to be a standing order to address the worst problem we have around here, which is getting to a bill. spending a week of dead time on the senate floor while there is a vote -- there is a "filibuster" going on for the
motion to proceed. the minority is as a trade-off guaranteed the right to amendments. >> you are basing this on -- [indiscernible] that is the problem. you guys can never get 60 votes. how are you going to do it -- >> we're doing this with the defense reauthorization bill. we are doing it with this bill right now. we want an environment that provides these options were the majority and minority leaders can work together with their conferences to move legislation forward. we have shown on several occasions we are entirely capable of that. but there is the erosion of certain practices like, as i said -- stop everything i object. you cannot do that. you have got to be on the floor. that objection may not hold.
it has got to do with the desire to move. i can tell you, many of us are so nervous about nervous about r option -- you are asking whether or not you think you can get 60 votes. is that your question? >> at some point, you have to get the votes. if you want to keep it at 60 -- >> we are hopeful between the two caucuses, there would be 60 votes in the standing order. >> does this mean that you and perhaps undecided democrats simply would not vote for the
more ambitious public auction? >> it means that we would not change the rules and it would mean that the senate is not a continuing body. i am not going to try to characterize how many are troubled by the idea of the nuclear option, which again, has never been used to change the rules. there is this attempt by republicans -- again, i point out with all respect to my colleagues in the senate, some of which are with the majority, but some of them have never been in the minority. when the shoe is on the other foot, how will that dictate behavior? >> senator reid has expressed
concern about non-germane and manon's. -- non-germane amendments. >> we allow that. we do not change that. however, how we express that is very important. if someone offers a non-germane amendment that democrats do not want to vote on, we can offer an amendment to that. that is the way we do it. be to not change the senate practices. and by the way, am i do not believe in the so-called constitutional option -- i do not believe the so-called constitutional option does either. they do not debate amendments.
they do not provide or restrict the amendments that they talk about, and there is no difference in that. ith those four amendments -- however, and this is kind of important. e -- it is ther majority and minority leader. those are the ones to decide which amendments we go with. >> probably the most respected parliamentarians we have had is robert byrd and his " was every senator should have the ability to oppose any amendment on -- to propose any amendment on any issue that he or she so desires. the second point is, people did
not send me here to just take easy votes. sometimes you have to take tough votes. so, we take them. that is not why i came here. >> [indiscernible] >> but there will be a vote on it. even if there is clotures and votes on those amendments, nevertheless, they must be voted upon. they can be tabled, by the way. there has to be a vote. there is no guarantee this will be voted up or down. but this is the way it can be done. i am not going to characterize what my leader feels. >> all i can say is we are hopeful that both our leaders now are using this proposal as a template, to be able to sit down and reach common ground.
and to reach the goals which i just articulated. democrats, the majority understandably wants to move forward with legislation. republicans, the minority, wants to have amendments. we think that this will provide both of those concerns so both parties can be satisfied. i think both parties have expressed appreciation for our work. >> that is clear. i just would emphasize the number one impediment to progress in the senate on bills according to our leader is the filibuster and the threat of the filibuster. we have addressed that and the ability to overcome that the bank that gives a reasonable protection to the minority. the number one goal to be achieved -- we very much want to end the post-cloture 30-hour
provision. it makes utterly no sense once a judge gets 60 votes to provide for 30 hours of post-closure debate. so, our leader wanted to remove that post-cloture provision that has been a huge impediment around your. we recommend the post-cloture, 30-hour period basically be eliminated. two of his major goals of an address to -- major goals have been addressed, so i am hopeful. >> [indiscernible] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> just taking it a word of some of the proposed changes to the filibuster rules.
the focus today over at the white house where congressional leaders are meeting, and if they make any appearances and decide to make any statements, we are going to take you there to hear about what is happening with the so-called fiscal cliff and mandatory tax increases. of course, those will go into effect january 1. we will have cameras there. in the meantime, up from earlier today, let's look at senator corker and alexander. they had a few things to say about the fiscal cliff.
>> good morning. i am lamar alexander. this is my colleague. merry christmas to you. i have a few comments and then i will introduce senator corker. when the dust settles and everything is said and done individual income taxes are not going to go up for almost all americans next year. that will be settled this weekend or it will be settled after the first of the year. that is the most important point for americans to know. almost all americans when the dust -- that will be settled this weekend or will be settled after the first of the year. that is the most important point for americans to know. for almost all americans, individual taxes will not go up next year. all the talk is about taxes, but the talks should be about what we want to talk about today, the medicare fiscal cliff, the looming bankruptcy.
there are millions of americans who are counting the days until they are eligible for medicare. it would be a tragedy if when they get to that day they become eligible there's not enough money to pay the bills. according to the trustees, that day is coming soon, in 11 years, in 2024. the president needs to do a good job in letting people know about the medicare fiscal cliff. senator corker has done some very good work over the last several months in a variety of areas in fiscal matters. a proposal of his that has attracted my support which he will describe is a proposal to help make the medicare program solvent by reducing the growth of out-of-control spending by
nearly $1 trillion in exchange for the expected request from the president for a $1 trillion increase in the debt limit. taking these two provisions together over the next few weeks will provide certainty for the economy, will be the linchpin for a budget agreement that will get the economy going again. republicans and the two of us have said we are ready to do a whole variety of things to do this, but we have to address the medicare fiscal cliff, or the seniors or soon thereafter young americans will be pushed over the cliff and will look at us and wonder why we did not do anything. i am proud to join the senator in support of his proposal, and i would like him to describe it and say whatever he would like to say. >> thank you, lamar. it is a tremendous pleasure to serve with lamar, who was a
great governor and a great senator and someone who both sides of the aisle listen to when he speaks. it is something that i am very happy about, and i thank him. here is where we will end up. today is a meeting at 3:00, and at this moment on december 29, it is apparent we will not do what we have been called to do. this is the 112th congress. we have had two years to deal with the fiscal cliff. we have known it was coming, and we designed it that way. we conjured up this fiscal cliff to address the big issue of our nation. i think you have heard people on both sides of the aisle, both of us, but many people talk about the fact that to deal with our fiscal issues we need to do
something in the $4.5 trillion to $5 trillion range, so we can have the economy have the opportunity to recover. -- to take off. to have nothing in place on december 29, that probably will not happen. unfortunately for america, the next line in the sand will be the debt ceiling. secretary geithner has sent a letter, around mid-march, that action has to be taken by that time or he have to take extraordinary action. lamar and i recognize that and we also recognize that the big issues of our nation really center around entitlements. today the average family pays over $119,000 into the medicare program. two members of a family working over the life and will pay in to medicare $119,000. today, that same family in
today's dollars takes out of medicare $357,000. americans today are paying about 1/3 of the true cost of medicare. lamar recognizes that, i recognize that, we recognize that both parties are hiding from americans the true cost of government. that is why we do not have as much of a consensus here to solve this problem, but it has to be solved. what we are hoping is going to occur is immediately after we deal with the issues that lamar just mentioned, and that is the most americans are not going to see their tax rates rise, that will either happened over the next couple days or the next several weeks, but we know that will be the outcome and all of you know that will be the outcome, but we hope that then we will turn to the serious business of reforming our entitlements. this bill basically over the next 10 years will produce
about $1 trillion in savings in reforms and cause these programs to be solvent. this is so future seniors can have the opportunity to enjoy these benefits that we think are very important. with that, what we would like to do is give the president a $1 trillion debt ceiling to accompany $1 trillion in reforms to save these programs. i thank lamar for being here and his leadership in trying to solve these problems, and we will be glad to answer questions on this topic that you would like to ask. yes, ma'am. >> the stock market has dropped for the fourth or fifth day in a row. if congress is going to be able to deal with these tax cuts right after january 1, what is the holdup with dealing with them right before january 1? why is it? >> you are asking about
something that may happen later today, but for over a month both of us have been trying to get us to pivot away from this issue and deal with it, also to begin to deal with the issue that our nation faces which is entitlement reforms. whether it happens before, which is more responsible, or after january 1, it is going to happen. i do not think the market is responding to that. i think the market -- and i am only a lowly senator -- but i think the market is going to respond more negatively to a situation where we kick the can down the road and we really do not address the structural fiscal issues that this nation has. it is an ebb and flow, but if we in fact do not use this period of time before us right now to deal with the bigger issues of entitlements, i think the market will respond in a
more permanent and negative way to our inaction. >> both have been involved in two years of negotiations with members of the other party about the issues you're talking about now. why did all of these closed- board meetings and conferences and briefings amount to nothing by the end of this year, and why do you think that if you got two more months you will get anything in the next two months? >> two words -- presidential leadership. i hope that president obama, now that he is elected, will do as good a job in tackling tough issues as he did in getting reelected. there are 535 of us and we all have ideas, and in the senate, we probably have 40, 50, or 60
of us who say we are ready to raise revenues and control entitlements. we have said that. the republican leader has said in an editorial in "the wall street journal" that he would be ready to raise revenue. if i had waited for the state legislature to come up with a roads program, we would be driving up on dirt roads. the president has to seize the moment to make a proposal about revenues, and he has to go across this country and say i will give you a very tough -- you will not get your medicare bills paid if we did not deal with that now, and you're not going to like it, but i am here to tell you that we are going to have to do it.
if he were to do that, if all of us were saying we are ready to work with you to solve the problem -- he is the president, and just as reagan worked key deals with tip o'neill and bill clinton did on welfare reform and president eisenhower in korea, we need two words -- presidential leadership. we need to do both, and the president has to lead, and if he does i am ready to work with him. so are a lot of other republicans and democrats. >> let me add to that. to get back, i agree with everything lamar just said, but there is a tremendous dereliction of duty here. you have a congress that has spent two years debating, we have written legislative language. i want to hearken back to the
fact that i offered a bill that laid out all these entitlement reforms that lamar has joined in supporting, but also had revenues in it, almost $1 trillion. i gave a copy of that bill to the white house, to boehner, to pelosi, and said here is a way to solve this problem. there will be other ideas, but it is pretty amazing that we know the number one problem in our country is our fiscal solvency. every developed country knows that the greatest issue we face is our fiscal solvency. economists on both sides have said this is the greatest problem we face. here we are on december 29 without a serious proposal before us to deal with the biggest issue, which is entitlements. i think every american should be disgusted with all of washington. i agree that it is the
president's responsibility to lay out a plan to bring people together, but it is a total dereliction of duty and, candidly, a lack of courage to deal with these issues. congress can do these things without the president, but it is more likely to pass when you have a republican house and the democratic senate if the president brings it forth. it is a shame we are where we are and, candidly, that our economy is not going to be what it could have been the first quarter of this year if we had just done the work that we were supposed to do by this year's end. >> would you block a bill if it increased rates on those making more than $250,000 a year? >> there is a discussion to have an open amendment process.
there have been discussions about a way to deal with this issue that you brought up earlier, which is revenues, at least getting a portion out of the way, since we know -- it is going to happen either before the 31st or after. the note it is going to happen. 19 go ahead and deal with that issue? >> republicans have said they have already acted. now it is the democrats' turn to act. is there a sense that could backfire in that something could get through the senate that might fail with conservatives in the house? >> i cannot predict what the house will do or deal with hypotheticals. the way our system is supposed to work as the president is supposed to make a proposal, supposed to go across the country and persuade people that he is right.
at that. he knows how to do with. then he sits down with us and we complain and amend it and bring it up on the floor and vote on it, and get a result. that is what is supposed to happen. it cannot start until the president makes a proposal. that is what everybody is missing. they're sitting at the white house like it is a harvard law review, like seeing who is the smartest person in the room. we need to deal with revenues and we need to deal with the medicare fiscal cliff or you will not get the medical bills paid, and i have a congress i will have to persuade to do that as well as the american people. a lot can happen. just as bob said it -- i said in my remarks that the tax issue could get resolved this weekend or it could get resolved at the beginning of next year. it will get resolved. almost all americans will not pay higher taxes next year.
but it could happen this weekend. >> the meeting ends today, if there is a proposal put on the table, we're hearing about smaller-scale proposals to get enough republican support in the senate, and not just get 60 votes. do you need an estate tax -- is it ok if it's just different income and unemployment? >> it would be best to let senator mcconnell and others meet with the president today and have them talk about that in private. probably the meeting that happens today is more for optics and probably the substance occurs after that when staff begins to talk. they ought to work on that together, and i think it is best for me not to comment on what should or should not be in it. i want to come back to this -- the 112th congress has scored, litigated, debated every one of the issues that lamar and i are
talking about today, and what is likely to happen is we will end up with a kick-the-can-down- the-road bill that creates another fiscal cliff that deals with this fiscal cliff. how irresponsible is that? what that means to americans and people all across the country is that instead of starting this year by people showing the courage to solve this problem, we will move this into next year, and what that means is the first quarter, the first six months of this next year, will be met with hand-to- hand combat as we deal with issues everyone knows has to be dealt with. what that really means to our citizens and citizens around the world is our economy is not going to be what it could have been. the quality of life for
americans is not on to be what it should have been because we have not acted in a way that is proper, we are not carrying out the duties that we were hired to carry out. >> i am not even sure there is a question, but your proposal is over a 10-year period. yet a trillion-dollar increase in the debt ceiling will not even last a year. at best. >> right. >> do you know whatever you propose cuts to medicare that everybody gets out of this -- [indiscernbile] the spending problem here in washington, can you tell us -- >> there has been a good precedent that has been set a couple of years ago, where for every dollar of that increase --
debt increase there was a dollar in spending reduction. if you carry that out -- rob portman did a study for all of us -- if you carry that out over a 10-year period, you have a balanced budget at the end of 10 years. the changes that lamar and i propose are changes that add up to trillions and trillions of dollars over time, because when you do something like this, you understand, compounding the fact that occurs here, 20 million more americans coming on medicare over the next decade. even the first year is only a trillion, the reforms over time, you really are making these programs solvent which is what most of us want to do. we do not want to kick the can up the road. what you are doing if we can move to this -- if we are in a situation where we are not jeopardize in the credit of our country, but we are solving this -- the issue that the market is talking about, which
is the -- which lamar is talking about, which is the medicare fiscal cliff, which is not being dealt with. entitlement reforms are more -- by far than discretionary cuts, because discretionary cuts, we have to defend against those every month, whereas entitlement reforms stay in place forever, and they make these programs -- >> i have a signal we have to go vote, but let me say this. what senator corker has done in this proposal about helping medicare become solvent is what the president should be doing. the only point of disagreement i will have with him is he indicated he thought congress could do it alone. i do not believe that i do not believe you can make a change of this magnitude without presidential leadership. in our history, major crises have been resolved by presidential leadership or not at all throughout our history.
this will sound unpopular. this is bad medicine for many people, but part of what we are supposed to do. if we can enlist the president in an effort to solve the one remaining piece of the budget agreement we need -- this is the only one we need that we have not gotten close to solving -- if he will take a leadership on finding a way to make medicare solvent so that 11 years from now seniors do not start falling over the medicare fiscal cliff and after that one by one a new generation does every year, then we can do that and we can have the kind of budget agreement that will get this economy moving again. i am here primarily to salute senator corker for doing what i think the president should be doing, and i do not think it can be accomplished by the united states government unless he takes a lead. he does not have to lead with
corker's bill, but it has to be something like it. >> because i would never disagree with my colleague, i agree it takes presidential leadership. thank you all very much. appreciate it. >> senator corker and alexander. that is from earlier today. their remarks on the fiscal cliff. congressional leaders are meeting with president obama to continue work on avoiding that fiscal cliff. of course, that is the mandatory tax increases and spending cuts that go into effect in three days, at the start of the new year. the meetings include the house leaders, the senate leaders, and president obama. it started about 40 or 50 minutes ago. an administration official says
that timothy geithner, the treasury secretary, is also participating. we have cameras if any of the participants should choose to speak. we have a special web page set up for all things related to the fiscal cliff. access video for the related briefings and hearings. you can follow a twitter feed for reporters and members. and we also have documents and articles. all available in one spot -- c- span.org/fiscalcliff. >> if we turn away from the needs of others, and we align ourselves with those forces which are bringing about -- >> the white house is the bully pulpit and you want to take advantage of it.
>> it seems to meet this country is in nothing short of a public health crisis. >> there is so much influence in that office. it seems a shame to waste it. >> i think they serve as a window on the past to what was going on with american women. >> she is really the only woman in the world you can trust. >> a lot of the first ladies were writers, journalists. they wrote books. >> they are more interesting as human beings than their husbands in many cases, if only because they are not limited by political ambition. >> dolly was socially adept and politically savvy. >> dolly madison loved every minute of it. >> she warned her husband -- you
cannot rule without including what women want and what women have to contribute. >> during this statement you are a little breathless and too much looking down and i think it was a little to set. not enough change of pace. >> probably the most tragic of all the first lady's. >> she lady wrote in her memoir that she said "i myself never made any proportion. i only decided what was important and when to present it to my husband." you stop and think how much power that is. that is a lot of power. >> part of the battle against cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the diseased. >> she transformed the way we look? these bugaboos -- the way we
look at these bugaboos and made it possible for countless people to survive and flourish as a result. i do not know how many presidents have that kind of impact on the way we live our lives. >> just walking around the white house grounds, i am constantly reminded about all of the people who've lived there before, and particularly all of the women. influence andies -- image. and new series on c-span, starting presidents' day, february 18. >> the number of senators and representatives are retiring at the end of the 112th congress. c-span has been speaking with several of them. next a discussion with retiring california congressman jerry lewis. he served 17 terms in the house and shared the appropriations
committee. this is about an hour. >> congressmen jerry lewis, you are leaving after three plus decades here. in what ways is this institution different than when you joined? >> there have been many changes. the most significant difficulty with those changes is we have tended recently to more and more polarized ourselves. there is a tendency to want to paint everything in partisan terms. 90% of the issues we deal with have nothing to do with partisan politics. we are here to attempt to respond to our constituency needs in a way that reflects their priorities. the partisanship has gotten in the way of members working with each other. as closely as i think is important. >> can you trace the roots of
that? >> i think i can. i arrived here in 1979. one of my classmates was newt gingrich. early on, he took on as his target, the speaker jim wright. that was the beginning of some of this polarization. it was a better time. -- there is little doubt that in the days of tip o'neill, but it was a better time. since those last couple of decades, the institution has suffered from too much partisanship. >> before mr. gingrich, i would imagine he would argue the republican house members have spent decades in the wilderness and he was the one that found a way to bring them into the majority in the house. how do you balance the pluses and minuses? >> there is not any question that that effort to paint a
picture of jim wright's service laid the foundation for a majority. that was a healthy thing. i do not believe it was a good thing -- we have been in that for far too long. appropriations committees work -- in turn the, i think it is significant for the american public to know the appropriations committee work is where either you spend money or you do not. ideally, you are here to work with one another to be as responsive as possible to your own constituents and taxpayers. within the committee itself, the more we can talk to each other as individuals and human beings, the better off the institution will be. and the more responsive it will be. >> the kinds of organizations that track members' votes, when they look at yours, saw an ad and earlier you more frequently crossed the aisle to vote with democrats. in your later service, 96%
rating. is that reflective -- you tell me. did the house change? >> it is a reflection of polarization that takes place at a leadership level. party loyalty is important. but our voice can be heard in a fashion that says we can work together best at the subcommittee level where we talk to each other about policy direction. it is important for members to talk to each other as human beings. >> there are many people decrying the partisanship. some who think it is great. if you think it has been a bad thing for the institution, do you see it as the foreseeable
future or are there agents of change that would allow more across the aisle working together? >> i feel very strongly there is really hope that we will recognize the value of talking to each other, that we will return to more bipartisanship and realizing we can best serve our own constituents by knowing there is a great middle out there that makes of america. the more we reflect the middle, the better off our committee will be and i think the service we provide will be better. >> what gives you that hope? >> a lot of people are recognizing the pathway we are on will not help. more and more members are talking with me where we discuss with one another how we can improve the place. i hear it almost every day. i encourage it. >> there are people who believe partisanship is a good thing because ideology and the
direction of the country moves in the way they want. for example, people have come in with the tea party. what do you think of these hyper-partisan groups outside of the congress that attempt to exert their influence? >> one of the more fascinating experience i have had involves a gathering. my first meeting a couple years ago, with tea party types. my staff was concerned about this new group. i said, give me their telephone numbers. i invited them to our session. they were there that evening to express their concern about health care being nationalized and taking over that piece of their personal life. they were not angry with congress per say, but they wanted to see us spend whatever money we could spend, without
assuming every answer lies in washington. one of the best things that has ever happened to us in our work, that somehow that will of lysing -- gold all lightning with all the answers missed my house, is because i got elected to congress. >> talking about the appropriations process in particular, here we are with the fiscal cliff and we are in the lame-duck session, but the debt to gdp ratio for the united states has continued to arrive. -- continue to rise. there are many people who have pointed fingers. what is your response? >> there is no question the pattern in washington is to spend every dime we can collect. almost regardless. there is a view that says if a program is funded, it ought to continue to be. the appropriations committee has the responsibility of oversight to make sure we are using the dollars well. we went about reducing the
appropriations. this has been over a decade ago. for every category of the president's budget within my subcommittee. we were successful. the first significant step of saying, we can spend less. we do not have to spend more on every program every year. >> what about the years you held the gavel? >> the commitment we made was to pass every appropriations bill by the fourth of july break. my staff said i am crazy. it was feasible if you went about the work seriously. by the fourth of the library, guess what? all of the bills had been passed. we were able to send everyone of those bills to the president's desk. they were signed in the law
with bipartisan support. that sort of work can make a difference. more voices need to be heard in support of that effort. >> my recollection would be since then, it has been budgeting by continuing resolutions. >> we have done an awful lot. a lot of people do not realize we have demonstrated we can do this regular order. the more we move the committee back rather than having everything dominated in a speaker's office, the better off the congress will be. >> who loses and who gains when -- >> who loses and who gains when -- >> the existing agencies have their pipelines already clogged with money and we throw more money at it without any serious oversight.
continuing resolutions are ignoring our responsibility and our goal is that we have got a job to do. to see how money is cspent, and to control how it should be spent. it is time we get back to the responsibility. we control the purse. the sooner we do it, the better the people will be. >> the nickname for the people who stare all the subcommittees are the cardinals. the college of cardinals. give me a bit of a backstage. it is depicted in television and movies as these very powerful individuals. the door closes and the work of washington gets done. what is it really like being a subcommittee chairman when you were chairman of the entire committee? and your role as one of the cardinals. >> i would speak directly of my work as chairman of the defense subcommittee that appropriates all the money for the national defence.
one of the first things we did was to recognize with the advice and counsel of people within the military that we were on a pathway to build three different lines of tactical aircraft for the future, and a lot of money would be wasted unless you got a handle on it. we dared to raise questions about the f-22, and where it my go -- might go. the company that was involved was talking about the f-22 and procurement for the first seven aircraft. when they were talking about going forward, they had not tested whether the wings were ready yet. the whole program will have fallen off a cliff if we had not insisted we go back to the drawing board and do more testing and look again. because of that, the congress being directly involved, saying they may not be right on this one, we were able to move ourselves in the direction and make sure it would be the cutting edge for decades in the
future in terms of america's air strength. >> we often hear who is right and who is to blame for the wasteful spending. some programs the military does not want continued to be funded because they have jobs. how does the public get their money's worth, money spent most effectively, the way this system works? >> it is important for us to know the department of defense is not always right. for example, one of the early earmarks involved an arena known as unmanned area vehicles. -- aerial vehicles. i happened to be in the middle of that. the air force at the time was
not interested in aircraft that -- they did not have a person sitting in this seat. uav's caused a revolution in the way we deliver intelligence to an aircraft. they are now on the cutting edge of tomorrow's air force. it is important congress has its voice heard. i did not presume to know we were right. i did know there had to be some alternative evidence. -- avenues. within the intelligence arena, we had a chance to look closely to unmanned area vehicles. it seemed to me this could be a pathway to revolution .it. it would not have happened, had congress not been involved. >> we could probably offer some examples from the other direction, so let me understand how does the public get best served with the competing forces that all want their program to continue? their district to be served.
>> it is a big part of our job. it is an appropriators responsibility to be involved in that fight. it involves both oversight and insisting that money be spent well. i must say it comes to mind that one of the first projects i was ever involved in, a young person dropped a ping-pong ball on his back window during the 1938 flood. the ball hit the water and floated out the back fence. many years later, and earmarked back here that led to the project, that sort of seven oaks dam, ensures that entire valley, the inland empire, will never flood again . that sort of work is very important. money can be used well. >> for a young congressman and women coming in with the
freshman class, what was your own pathway to the chairman of gaffle, and could you offer them advice? >> be patient. i was here for two years and decided this is crazy the way the place run spirits and me back home. i thought about doing that. an opportunity to go to the appropriations committee took place early on. worked,ame my career's focusing on the way our money is spent. to make sure we try not to overspend their money and assume every program must go on forever. >> it is not without its perils. there have been people who have had inappropriate relationships with lobbyists.
all of those who wish to influence, you have had an investigation which did not go forward. i am wondering about the washington relationship with lobbyists and how the institution polices that. and how the public is well served in the process. >> we have an extended process within the house that has a responsibility to make sure we follow our own rules and guidelines. the vast percentage of my colleagues are here to serve their institution and their constituents well. they are not here to take through a back door, but rather involve themselves in the public process. the democrats in my district are more conservative than me. that is true to some extent. i believe deeply in the great center of america.
most of our citizens want us to reflect as much as possible. as long as we can talk to each other in those terms, the congress will be better served and we will do a decent job of dealing with their money. >> does it pain you the congressional approval rating is in the digits? -- the single digits right now? >> people should be suspicious of what goes on away from their homes. 3,000 miles away in our case. it is our job to make sure they know we are attempting to reflect parties. -- their priorities as we do our work. one of the more interesting things is to presume that we do not always have all of the answers. a couple of guys in southern california had an idea for a different form of non invasive cancer treatment.
proton therapy. that program is fabulous for non invasive treatment of prostate, breast, and small tumors in the brain. it never would have had a chance, if we left it to nih, because they thought it wasn't practicable. today, it is saving literally thousands and thousands of lives. it is a testament to collaboration between non- partisan support for basic and applied research in the scientific fields, in this case, the medical application of the proton is phenomenal. >> you mentioned tip o'neill and newt gingrich, two former speakers. among the speakers with whom you have worked, collaborative late in your committee assignments, who has been the best? who was the most effective? what has made them such? speakers of the house you served under.
>> i did not arrive at a time that allowed me to work closely with tip o'neill, but i admired the way he reached out to president reagan and the way they shared with one another their ideals of the way the government would operate. i only have one speaker at a time. my speaker right now, it is john boehner. i am proud to work with him. >> is one particularly effective? >> one of the most important pieces of that is speakers who are willing to reach out to members and seek your advice and counsel and input, those speakers have a way of having a lasting impact upon the place. i have spent a number of years in the building. if sam raburn is not a reflection of that, i don't know who is.
>> how about presidents under which you have served? >> ronald reagan. i had the honor of serving with him and he signed air quality district act for southern california. the first preschool program in the country was signed by ronald reagan. people hardly believed that but he was willing to use government in a way that was responsive to real challenged that government should be dealing with. i was proud that we had a chance to work together in connection with some of that. a if you look across, it's lot of history, 34 years altogether, is there a time when you look back and say those are the best years. those are the ones i enjoyed the most. >> every year that goes by it amazes me that i am still here. i did not plan to be here this long. if i did not have the chance to serve in some of those appropriations we would not have
stayed this long. there are many ways to impact the process and the future of congress itself. it is my intention to try to do that regardless on what doorway we're walking through in our life. >> you haven't announced what you are doing next have you? >> i have not and i have no idea. >> how does that feel >> it feels great. my bride and i -- we have worked together many years. where i have had success, any you can says i've had it is work that we've done together and we're proud that we're going to take these next steps that will allow to make a difference. >> do you know if you're going home to california? >> we have a home in california and one in washington and we're not selling either one very quickly. >> if you can tell me about the friendships you have made here, who are the most significant
both on a personal member of congress level and also your professional collaboration. who are those that you think back and say that is a partnership that really worked? >> i had a privilege of having a number of those. it may sur surprise some people but early on tony and i were good friends. years ago he almost joined my life insurance business and if that occurred he would not have come to congress. here in the house, a rising star is ken, my colleague from riverside county. >> how about the other body? have you had the opportunity to make friendships with senators? >> i have from time to time and i would not walk away from the wonderful opportunity that work with ed. he and i formed a partnership
that went way beyond the congress. it has led to personal friendship as well as social friendship. >> i'm going to go back to the newt gingrich years again. when the government shut down, what did that look like in the rearview mirror, that whole effort? and the fact that the country almost came to that point again a year and half. >> we had come to a crunch in the road where neither side of the aisle were willing to talk to one another. people through their hands in the air and said we need to do something for the country to pay attention that we're spending more money. it is true that the appetite of the federal system is endless unless we're willing to get a handle on that and say to the public, do you want us to continue on this pathway of collecting money as that is the only place to do things and government do it for us?
i feel strongly if we stay on the pathway we're currently on we're headed to the nanny state which is france and greece. that concerns me a great deal and the country will not be able to deal with the leader of the free world if we continue on that pathway. >> what would that look like for the average citizen? >> the average citizen more and more their life would be dependent on uncle sam. the difference between america and the rest of the world is our founding fathers placed the highest priority on individual enterprise and individual spirit. if people are willing to say my dependent upon my own willingness to work hard and impact the process we will continue to have that driving force that makes us the strongest country in the world. if we're not careful, we will walk away from it and soon,
unfortunately, we'll be like france. >> do you have any sense there is a generational sense on views how the government should serve the public among younger americans than it is among baby boomers and older? >> i'm hopeful we can convince the cross section of the younger generation that their contribution to our system to their families, to their community will make a difference. if they are willing to have that spirit at the local level within their communities then america will continue to be strong. if they are unwilling to take on that piece of each of our responsibility then i'm afraid we'll be on the wrong pathway and the future of america will be in jeopardy. >> you were here during 9/11. >> i was. >> think back to those days and make you can talk about what it was like to serve this institution during 9/11.
>> that was one of those times that will never leave my imagination. i was headed for a sub committee on defense of appropriation for a meeting when i herd about an airplane crashing into a building. all of our members were in the capital building starting one of our markups for the following fiscal year. at that very moment, we were learning or heard about a second plane crashing into that building. we adjourned our meeting immediately. we ended up convening at my home that is not far from here. 9/11 sent a signal that there were people who wanted to destroy our way of life and we better be serious that we're capable of preserving that way
of life or we'll go in the wrong direction. there is no doubt that 9/11 radically changed the presidency at the time. george w. bush was on a different pathway than the one that 9/11 took him down. he had to be in the middle of the battle against terrorism, against the people who would destroy our way of life. i think he meant to have a different kind of administration. he was very high priority in what would happen in our schools and the role of federal government. suddenly a radical shift, the effect that 9/11 had was the most dramatic experience that i will ever have in public affairs. >> what is the changes in this institution as a result of that? thee're living around capital. you spent time walking in the
place today that was because there is security at every corner. necessarily so, it would appear, but my goodness it is hard to imagine that america is better off with all these limitations and regulations we must deal with. >> do you think it has gone too far? >> i think it has gone much too far. the invasion of privacy, little ladies walking through airports are the problem, a bit of excess to me. we have to be careful about that. it still remains a high priority. >> totally different question, but as you pack up to leave here, what has it been like to be a lame-duck member of congress? >> i don't feel lame at all. there is one item that it might be one of the mistakes i made in my life in public affairs.
many years ago in southern california, when i was a member of the legislator, a fellow by the name of thomas was jailed for not being willing to give up his sources of information. i talked with my staff director in sacramento and said we must do something about this. it led to the first and only meeting i had with the board of the "los angeles times" which were discouraging me to go forward with a news man shield law. since then they have used in their arguments in courts. today, i scratch my head especially when you look at the internet and say do we have to draw lines here? have we gone too far? i personally think my position on a.c.a. is a good position and protecting the people's right to know is a high priority.
>> what have you decided to do with all your papers and years in congress? >> that is an important question. i'm pleased to say that my alma mater at ucla is taking some interest. hopefully, some of that work will be of value to researchers sometime out there. >> you have expressed optimism and interest of what your future might hold but it has to be difficult leaving this institution after so many years. this has been most of your adult life, your way of life. how are you using these last few weeks here, still as a voting member of congress? is the experience -- does it feel different saying this might be the last time i will do this? >> i was looking at my cad and wondering how many more votes i have left.
if i thought this was the end of impacting public affairs i would be very nostalgic. we're looking at it as another chapter in life -- the book of life that we look forward to. >> do you plan to make a good- bye speech on the floor? >> i said a few words on the floor yesterday and i don't plan to say much more. >> when you leave, finally, what will be the thing that you think most about this job that you want people to know? explain to them what has it been like to serve as a member of congress and the thing you will hold most dear about it. >> i've been greatly influenced by the experience i had as a youngster out at ucla. i spent time in the peace
corps in india. it led me to a total of seven months traveling india and getting to nose those people. it was during that summer, the first summer in 1955 knowing that i would one day be in public affairs. i decided unlike my mother's wish, i wouldn't be a democrat but i would run as a republican and india made that difference. i take us back to the founding father's priority for the importance of each individual if this is our society. if you are willing to recognize that we can make a difference in our work, we can affect the public affair's process positively, and then the individual spirit will make the difference. i will continue to commit myself to try to affect the process by way of individual ideas, attempting to move people along the pathway that will hopefully bring us together in a different way. >> i read that you have said that you will not lobby congress. is that correct? >> it is not my intention to be a lobbyist.
>> our half hour is finished. thank you, congressman, for your time. >> thank you. good to be with you. >> reporter standing outside the white house, waiting for word from congress, timothy geithner, and president obama on the fiscal cliff. the president is not making a new offer. if he does not get a proposal that can pass both chambers, the president will push for a straight up or down vote on his plan. that news from the associated press. you can find more online. we will be at the white house, to bring you more updates as they happen. in a meantime, we are looking at some of the senators and representatives retiring at the end of this congress. next, lynn woolsey. she represents california's
sixth district. she is unofficially known as the matriarch of the anti-war movement in congress. from earlier this month, this is about half an hour. >> representative lynn woolsey retiring, 20 years in congress. safe seat. why are you leaving? >> well, i had my i will say it this way, i was elected 20 years ago on my 55th birthday. november 3. do the math and 20 years and 75 years old and it is time for me to retire. >> what is next? >> i'm president for americans for democratic action. i was just re-elected for a second term. i follow in the footsteps of george mcgovern and others and i will have a national presence and i will be traveling around the world to developing countries with the organization.
>> what are you going to be doing with them? >>i will go with them on educational program. i've been on one before and they do wonderful work and i'm delighted they asked me to be a part of it. >> are you staying here in washington? >> no, of course not. i'm going home to california. you can do everything, you know, remotely now. there is no reason to put yourself in one place that you don't -- that you are leaving anyway. i will back b back in california. >> what are you going miss most about congress? >> it took me a while to realize that i would miss anything. i'm a person when the timing is right, i know i'm doing the right thing, but i'm going to miss my friendships. i'm going miss the excitement. this is an exciting place. i'm used to a lot of activity in my life.
if i'm smart at all, i'm going to learn how to sit down, take things in, and not always be on the move. >> who are some of your best friends here in congress? >> without blinking my best friend is barbara lee and maxine waters. others like betty mccollum, when we go to dinner everyone gets nervous that something is up and they are usually right. sometimes we go for fun. >> did shared politics bring your friendship together? >> yes, absolutely. back brad are across the bay -- barbra and i are across the bay from each other in the bay area and we have just become good friends. >> any friends that don't agree with you politically here in congress? >> sure. first of all, it's hard for people to realize this when we
are here, 20 years, we're here all weeks and we're on airplanes together. everyone is their own little island. this is not a place where you make huge friendships. these aren't the people you call on the weekend to have a chat or they are not the ones that call you if something happens to one of your family members or you get sick. but what i get from people i don't agree with politically, it is usually men by the way, for some reason they get who i am as a human being. i get you know woolsey, i have never voted with you in the 20 years we've been together but i really respect where you stand on your issues and your passions for what you believe. >> any republicans that you consider friends?
>> not friend friends. >> because of politics? >> no, we never do anything together. maybe some people can build great friendships. a friend to me is a friend it is not just an acquaintance i like. there are plenty of republicans i like but i don't know their home phone number. that is a friend. >> is it hard to cross that aisle, you said that we don't do anything together? is it democrat and republican, is it hard to cross the aisle? >> it doesn't happen now. it is really sad. i will tell you who i cross the aisle with is don young from alaska, if you can believe it. he and i had legislation on the fish issue and i love his sense of humor and he loves to tease me.
that doesn't make us friend friends. but we like each other. >> what are you not going to miss? >> i'm not going to miss the fact that everything is based on what is happening today instead of what -- learning from the past and knowing what we have to do in the future. >> can you give an example? >> i would use children. i mean, there isn't a person in this house that doesn't understand that children are our future. we don't take care of our kids, 25% of our population, what is the future of this country about? we know it but we don't act appropriately to protect these kids and to bring them so when they are out of school they are going to be competitive with the outside world.
>> legislatively what is one of your frustrations? >> that we're still in afghanistan. for some reason we know it is the wrong thing to do and we're committed through 2013 but we should be out of there. >> was that a tough vote for you? i mean for you to face your colleagues to vote against action in afghanistan or action in iraq against war? >> no, the tough vote was the first vote that back brad lee was the only one who had the strength to vote no. the second one i was like i was given the reprieve to show what i really stood for. i was the first one to go to the floor to tell the president that -- with legislation it was time
to put a plan together to bring our troops home. that was a turning point in our congress and in our country for the conversation on iraq. >> you said that you felt immediately that you made a mistake against your own conscious. -- consicence. what was the atmosphere like here at capital hill on the floor? >> for the first vote? >> yeah. >> our leadership was adamant that it did not mean that the president would have an open hand for anything he wanted to do in the middle east. back brad new it did, she -- barbara new it did but i went along with the leadership and that was a mistake. >> did that cause any conflict in your friendship? >> no. she said to me see, i told you
so. no, no. >> representative woolsey you are supportive of the public option for health care and the health care act. looking down the road, do you see the health care act as being something that is going to be successful? >> now after this election, yes. today in our caucus i actually sperling was there and i reminded them that the public auction if they wanted to control the cost of care premium cost then the public option had to come into play. i have not dropped the issue of the public option. it saves $58 billion for heaven sakes. but health care, right now, we have a base to improve on. for the last two years where everything that the president
stood for the republicans wanted to tear a part was going after health care and if that would have been successful we would be starting over and in a real hole. we're on our way. to work.g it won't work if it is so costly in premiums. so yeah, you have care but you can't afford it. so we have to have competition through the insurance companies. look at me, i'm not running but i'm still campaigning. i'm still adamant about what i believe. >> what is the term liberal and the term progressive mean to you? >> it means the same thing. we started saying, i'm progressive right after i was elected in 1992 because liberal was like saying i'm some kind of outlandish addict or something.
little by little i started realizing that liberal and progressive has to mean the same thing. so i say use either one, i don't mind. >> so you feel like an outsider in the democratic party? >> no. gosh, no. i was part of putting the progressive caucus back on its feet. barbara lee and i started co- chairing it and i co-chaired it with her for four years. with raul [indiscernible] we built it from 20-some members to 80 active members and had a much bigger voice. we did not use our voice to threaten our leadership
publicly. that we would not vote for something that means we would be voting with the right-right-wing of the republicans. we would not do that, we were democrats. we used our voices well and i'm proud on who the progressives are. >> has the democratic party changed since you've been in congress? >> oh, yeah. >> how has it changed? >> the whole congress has changed. but it started with the democratic party. when i was first elected and sworn in a liberal issue came up on the floor there would be about 125 of us that would be automatic vote. now, sometimes there is less than 20, depending on -- i believe the country is moving to the center.
i believe democrats are moving to the center also but you have to have a left progressive wing or the center is going to be left and we're going to go falling -- talk about falling off cliffs. there will be no end to what can happen to regular people in this country. >> how have you observed the republican party changing in the last 20 years? >> they have always been a locked. they don't change much. the tea party got in their way. i don't know if they have them in their hand now, i don't know. but they are pretty in sync and the other thing i learned is they have three rails, politics, legislation, and against the democrats.
they are all well funded. the democrats have politics and legislation. it is not in our genes to put a whole bunch of energy in getting the republican party. we've not learned how to do that yet, i don't think. i like being a democrat for that reason. >> one of the things we hear from long-term members or members who are leaving is the congeniality here has changed. what is your view? >> person-to-person, you know what our elevators are like here. the public probably doesn't but we get squished and it is fun. there's humor and there is a lot of banter and people don't dislike each other, period.
but you get off that elevator and it changes. when i first got here, people were -- the thing that surprised me was how polite, how respectful everybody was to everybody no matter what party you were, no matter what the issue was. it was very respectful. so you could carry on real conversations that over the years it has gotten -- it is just not. that's been a huge disappointment. >> our research shows that you are spoken on the floor, given 400-plus speeches. >> almost 450. >> in the house of representatives, why do you use that platform and how much time do you spend on the floor?
>> for those speeches, it is five minutes a time. that's our time. it is called a special order, it used to be in the evening, now it is in the morning. i've learned how -- it was better for me in the evening, it was better for my staff. but anyway, i wanted my message -- my message is about smarter security and bringing our troops home. i had no intention to be on the floor 450 times but they are still in afghanistan, aren't they? why do i do that? that is my time, i can speak on my issue, it is not set up by leadership. i mean, i'm told repeatedly when bush was our president by the clerks that i had to stop saying things about the president. so i would because it's against the rules.
>> you could not insult the president or criticize the president? >> or refer to him. >> you had to use terms like what? >> i would apologize and i would put it off and a few weeks later i would do it again because it was his fault. i did not want the public to think i didn't know that it was happening. but it was my time and that's all i can tell you. over the time, there is knob on the house floor listening and it doesn't matter but the public listens. when they are listening on c- span, your station, and you're a gift to them. we have heard from all over the country on those issues, i really do represent this country. we've gotten some wonderful feedback. >> what would you consider one
of your most proud legislative achievements? >> well, achievements is hard to measure. bill clinton signed in my nutrition bill for school breakfasts, to bring breakfasts to elementary schools, all kids, not just poor children. it was a study to prove that -- to prove something we know absolutely but it had to get proven scientifically. children who come to school with a full stomach or fed at school do way better in their studies and in their attendance and in their attitude and we proved it without a doubt. after three years, it because great study and it is there on the shelf but we can't afford to
do anything about it. we're not going to see every elementary student -- kids eat at home but they eat pop tarts, elementary children. my kids eat breakfast. but we have to feed our children so they can think. >> 20 years ago when you first came to congress, you became known as the former welfare recipient who is now a member of congress. first of all, tell us, remind us why you were on welfare for a while. what do you think of that? >> well, i was on welfare because when my children were 1, 3, 5 years old, their father was diagnosed manic depressant and he would not do anything about it so i became the sole responsibility for my children.
we started a new life. i went to work immediately but my job did not pay enough to cover the overhead. i moved out of the house, i got rid of my nice cars. got rid of the nice cars and got a little volkswagen beetle, it was fine. we took care of ourselves. but i couldn't make it work so a friend of mine said do you know about aid for dependent children? i said no, i didn't. investigated it, got on the program for three years, welfare, it made the difference in getting my feet on the ground, keeping our life together.
that was like 1968, 1969, those are times in california for dependent children it really made a difference in a person's life, a woman's life. i was the profile of the real welfare mom. white woman whose husband had abandoned them. that was not the profile they talk about. they talk about the cadillac queen and all of that. so when i was running for congress in a big -- i think there were nine of us running for the open seat. debate after debate after debate and i started thinking i'm so different than the -- there was two women but i was the woman in the race for sure.
i thought why am i so different from the rest of this group? we're all decent democrats. it hit me, i've lived something and i wasn't thinking as i'm going to use this, i had to know why i'm so different than they were. i experienced something they can't probably imagine. so i'm running in the wealthiest district in california and i decided to tell my story. i'm telling you they loved it. this woman who walked her talk. they knew i would fight -- they hoped i would but they should
they could trust me. >> when you look back at 1968 and your life flipped, did your politics flip at that time? >> no. >> did you feel hopeless? >> i don't know why, i mean, i should have moved back to seattle, washington to my family. it never entered my mind. i was 29 years old. i had the cutest kids on earth. here's a side story, men would say they like me. i was pretty. you have three children? where do they live? i would say they live with me, you jerk. where do you think they live, they are my children. no, i was always an activist. i was always an activist, always a leader. it never entered my mind that we weren't going to get through
this. but i was educated. i had good job skills. i was articulate and you know i had a lot of spine. i wasn't afraid for asking what was due. i was outspoken, that is a better word to say. i was healthy and my children were healthy. a lot of welfare recipients they aren't any of that. i would say to my friends i don't know how these other women do this that don't have the advantages that i have? they would look at me like what do you care about these other women you are struggling. i cared. that's what i brought with me. i was an executive at an electronics company and on the city council and here.
i just, you know, it was not like i did it why can't you? i did it because i had a lot of advantages. >> is there a dichotomy with your younger life and being in the wealthiest district in america? >> in my younger life, i was the daughter of a veterinary ran. i was fine, it is a long story, i'm not going there. yes, living in the wealthiest district and running if congress as a welfare mom, but i wasn't running as a welfare mom, that was my story of who i was. i was also an executive at an electronics company. i had my own business. i was a real activist in my community, people knew me.
it just added something, somehow. so then i got here and my staff and my consultants started cautioning me not to be the one that comes down to the floor and keeps talking about my welfare experience. i wouldn't do that. most issues but on the welfare reform under bill clinton. i didn't totally agree with what he was doing and i was the co chair here at the house. i thought that was pretty good, it was my second term and they named me co-chair. i think they did it because i was a welfare mother. they had no idea don't make made
co-chair and expect me to be quiet. i would go to the floor and i would talk about it and i would use my experience. i would hear on the other side of the aisle and they would say yes, but she's different. i wasn't different. i was the actual example of what a welfare mom could be if given the chance. >> we're almost out of time but i wanted to ask, 95%, 96% of congress gets re-elected. you were in a safe seat for 20 years. do you think congressional seats should be more competitive? >> they are competitive? we run every two years. how more competitive could it be than to be on the block every two years and under the microscope of your constituents? in my district, i don't know about this one because we haven't gotten the numbers but in the first obama election we had 93.5% voter turnout.
i would get about 70% but i would be the first or second actual number of votes. people cared, they pay attention, they are involved. if they did not like what i was doing i would be out of there. i knew it. i was lucky. i treated that district really well. i respected them, i think they loved me. >> one of the issues involved in the 2012 election cycle the women's vote and the hispanic vote. the hispanic vote 38% of california vote at this point. >> so, doesn't that put the pressure on the white house and the congress to respect the hispanic vote and do something for them?
because if they don't, that vote will not be there in two years for congress. >> lynn woolsey, 20-year member of congress retiring this term. this is c-span. >> taking a look at the white house in this hour, where a meeting on the fiscal cliff ended at approximately 4:15 eastern time. the president was not expected to be making a new offer on the fiscal cliff. if he had to, he would press congress to take a straight up or down vote on his plan to avoid the tax increases and spending cuts. according to a wheat from the cnn congressional producer, nancy pelosi is back on capitol
hill after the meeting with the president, calling it constructive and candid, saying, wait to see what senators reid and mcconnell can put together. pelosi said boehner made it clear in the white house meeting that he will not move something until the senate moves first. you can find more updates and our special web page on the fiscal cliff, c-span.org /fiscalcliff. we have been looking at the possible impact of the office of a cliff on various sectors, including this conversation about possible effects on social security. host: a dive into social security. here to talk about the program is stephen olmacher, joining us from the associated press. how many people in america
receive social security? how much social security to people get? guest: >> 66 million people. the average benefit is a little over $12,000 -- a little over $1,200 a month. maybe $13,000 a year or so. host: we are talking about retirees and the disabled. guest: a fairly wide group of people receive social security benefits. retired workers, spouses, children, disabled workers, widows, woodward's. -- widowers. a big safety net of people. host: retirees receive about $1,200 a month on average. the benefits for the disabled, $1,100 a month on average. how does social security get
financed? guest: it has been a self-funded program since its inception. it is funded by payroll taxes. there's a 12.4% tax on wages up to about $110,000. if you make more than that, any money you make over that is not taxed as part of social security. the tax is divided equally between your employer and the worker. for the past two years, the workers' share of 6.2% has been reduced temporarily to 4.2%. as the temporary tax cut that went into effect over the past two years, than is sav workers an average of $1,000. host: you can see where the money comes from in this pie chart. payroll taxes making up 83%. also, interest and taxation of benefits.
what are some of the other numbers we are seeing? guest: what you are seeing is the interest is from the trust fund. when the last time so security was overhauled in 1983, but put in a system that generated more money in tax revenue than what was being paid out in benefits. a trust fund was built up. that stands at $2.70 trillion right now. with social security had the additional money, actually held by the treasury, they invested in treasury bonds. interestbonds aearn there that's where the big portion of your income for the trust from guns from, interest. and if you get benefits above a certain amount, that is also taxed. host: the social security trust fund, for old age and survivors insurance.
the also see disability insurance. guest: social security is not just a retirement program, it's also for disabled workers. if you are disabled, if you have a disability that prevents you from working and that condition will last at least a year, then you can apply for it and get social security disability benefits as well. it's not easy to get them. that program is a lot more complicated than the retirement program. so it is a social insurance program. it's not just aetirement program. host: how does social security factor into the fiscal cliff negotiation process? guest: the republicans put forward a plan in the last few weeks to change the way the annual cost-of-living adjustment is calculated forocial security beneficiaries. the cost of living adjustments, known as t cola, it's the annual increase in benefits people get in thr monthly payments.
this coming year, next month in january their scheduled to get a 1.7% increase in benefits. that is based on a governme measure of inflation, the consumer price index. specifically for so security, they use the consumer price index for urban wage eaers. there's a new measure of inflation that the government has been considering for while called tehe ange cpi. on average the social security administration aptells us the cola would be 0.3 percentage points less than what it has been. so the 1.7% increase coming in january would be about 1.4%. last year the increase was 3.6% during that would be about 3.3%. that is the biggest effect of adopting this new measure of
inflation that republicans put on the table. the reason why we have been focusing on this and many advocacy groups for older americans have been focusing on this, the president -- i would not say he agreed to its, a year-and-a-half ago there were in deficit talks and the talks fell apart. he put on the table the idea of adopting the change cpi. and the speaker of the house supports it now. it makes it in play. our other political dynamics on capitol hill that make it a lot more difficult to adopt. this is a very subtle thing to do to change the way the government measures cpi, but it has far ranging effects, effect that go far beyond social security. if it is projected to raise about $200 billion over the next 10 years. if they adopted it across a whole government, it would affect taxes over time. every year o tax brackets are
adjusted for inflation. if they are adjusted a little less each year, as you make more money, you would move into a new tax bracket and you get a tax increase. it's about $60 billion tax increase over the next 10 years. it could affect anti-party programs. the amou of money that you can make and be under the party line is adjusted each year for inflation during that would go up less each year, and that would mean fewer people would qualify for anti-party programs. -- for anti-poverty programs. the idea saves money. not that much money a first, but it saves a lot of money over time. all over $200 billion in the first year and more after that. advocates for older americans don't like this idea very much. the savings are so big and that
means they're getting less money each month in their benefits. host: there's the question of what it would mean for retirees, beneficiaries right now, in the next couple years, and in the future. and the proceeded of what it would mean across the government. what do democrats a about this? guest: congressman larson, you heard what he said about includes lulz security in these talks. that is a common belief among democrats on the hill, in the use and senate. it would be a very hard sell. one of the things i have been seng since the talks started is a lot of focus on whether republicans would agree to raising the tax rates. if they ever did, what gets lost in the discretion is what democrats would have to give up. presumably, republicans would want deep cuts in entitlement programs. it's not clear democrats would
be on board. senator harry reid in the senate has said social security should not be part of this. so has nancy pelosi, the democratic leader in the house. host: does the cola change depending on where you live in the country? guest: it is across the board for everyone. it is a percentage. it depends on how big your benefits are every year. you cited average numbers of about $1,200 a month for a retired worker. a lot of people get more and some get less. the dollar amount for your increa would change depending on that, but the percentage crease is the same a matter where you live in the country. host: we are talking >> some of the conversations about the fiscal cliff and other updates are available at c-
span.org/fiscalcliff. you can find tweaks from reporters like this one coming across the wires from major garrett. saying the meeting at the white house had ended at 4:00 p.m. major garrett wrote that president obama did not move from his $250,000 threshold. tweaks, documents, articles, all available at c-span.org /fiscalcliff. we will continue to bring you updates. >> i like the congressional hearings. i like the educational stuff. the policy-making situations i am very interested in. i think it is very interesting that washington, d.c. has all of these things. >> eric lowe watches c-span on
comcast. created in 1979, brought to you as a public service by york television providers. >> taking a look at a series of interviews with retiring members. next, a conversation with nebraska democrat ben nelson. in november, he said that he hoped that compromise would not be a four-letter word in the senate. he was part of the gang of four back in 2005. senator nelson will be replaced in january by a republican deb fisher. center view is 40 minutes. >> thank you for spending a half-hour with us to talk about your 12 years in washington. it ended with the reelection of barack obama. if you could think of adjectives, what would they be to describe these seven years?
>> interesting. challenging. sometimes totally frustrating. full of opportunities for the country. there were good times during these 12 years, laced together with some that were not so good. 9/11. the anthrax scare. there were also positive things. the election of barack obama i thought was a very positive statement for the country and moving forward in a way out of a fiscal abyss. i could not have imagined a better time to have been here with all of the things that have happened. >> let me ask you to look back over those 12 years and ask what
the high point was. >> when we could work together. maybe the single event that would and body that is the gang of 14. john mccain and i put together six other democrats and six other republicans to avoid what was then called the nuclear option, changing the rules, turning the senate into a smaller version of the house, where the rights of the minority caucus are ignored. consequently, we were able to work together that way, crossing party lines, crossing with the id administration wanted done or what the caucus leadership on both sides wanted done, it showed we had a certain independence.
i will never forget the late senator robert sitting in an office with us all together, sobbing, saying, we saved the senate. >> what was the instance for b?at, that caused him to solv >> we came to an agreement that we were going to vote to give a judicial appointees and up or down vote, rather than having to go to a filibuster. it was very difficult to get 60 votes. it was difficult at times to get 60 votes to tell what day it was or whether it was day or night. we proved we could work
together. for that period of time, there was a willingness to cooperate and work together, the likes of which we have not seen since. >> harry reid has announced an interest in changing filibuster rules. do you support a change? >> we have to do something. it is a process -- people think of a filibuster in "mr. smith goes to washington." i think we should have those rules in place to change it so mr. smith stays on the floor during the filibuster. it does not just run time
against the senate. it does not make any sense. if somebody feels strongly enough that they want to bring the senate to a halt, they should be willing to stay there on the floor and explain why, and i think it would be self- enforcing if people would be less likely to. people look at the senate and cannot work together, cannot get anything done, and one person wants their pay to be docked.
>> any other reforms or tuneups? >> if somebody put a hold on it, you could not find out who did it. secret holds on nominees. once you put a hold on them, that was it. that was wrong. we have cleaned up the rules in many different ways. you would have a 60-vote threshold to do some like that. the people back home cannot understand that. they should not accept it. >> what about the lowest point?
>> as part of the affordable care at, i tried to get medicaid for the expansion of medicaid, to take some of the burden off the states. back in 2003, i got medicaid payments by the government to help the state's struggling with their medicaid costs. $20 billion will able to spread across the states to help them because they were unable to meet the rising costs. in 2017, they're going to have a larger share of the costs. we need that is taken care of.
they did not know what the cost was. they put a number in as a place holder and it looked like i was doing something for my state when i wasn't. i was trying to get it for all the states. that is what happened. i wanted to get it knocked out -- if people wanted an opt out. the supreme court gave that. this got used against me as though i was trying to do something i should not have. i was not. the interesting thing is i was asked to do this by the nebraska governor. i did not get a thank you from another governor, who was from another state. >> during that time, you experienced the radio talk-show host circuit and the cable tv
circuit. what was that time like and what do you think the echo chamber in american politics today does? >> it is a difficult thing to deal with. it is not just broadcast. it is the blogs and tweets, all the electronic communications. >> in 2000, we did not have that. >> i was not prepared with what would happen. it was not a condition i had for voting for the bill. i thought it was fairness. i wanted the single payer government option out and i wanted to get adequate language in for abortion. i was not prepared for that.
it has changed the news process today away from things that are corroborated and fact checked to the formation and dissemination of one opinion after another, not based on fact. that has been harmful to the process. if people are not willing to try to get both sides, and only 11 side presented to them, you do not have the informed citizenry you need to have in a democracy. >> with that perspective, now that the affordable care act will begin to become fully finalized into law over the next couple years, we keep
hearing those on the conservative side is concerns about what it will do to the country. what are your concerns? will this be a good thing? >> yes, it will. right now, we have $50 billion a year of uncompensated care. people who do not have insurance, do not have medicaid, medicare, private insurance, mode carry coverage, they are not insured. they have access to health care in emergency rooms and if they cannot pay, and they do not go to bankruptcy, it costs -- the care does not go away. it is shifted to the rest of us who do have insurance.
$50 billion. it could be as much as $1,500 per person. paying for those who do not. you have everybody in the system all injured one way or another, then the uncompensated care goes away. it is no longer borne by those of us who are beneficiaries of an insurance program. that alone is a hidden tax people do not focus on unless it is pointed out to them. it raises the cost to everyone else. the fact never gets talked about. should. -- it should. >> the largest government health
care program, medicare, is reported to have brought levels as high as $64 billion a year. you can imagine the frustration on the part of the public. why has the city never been able to get its arms around that level of fraud and abuse and what does it say for the expansion of government? >> it is expensive to weed out the fraud and abuse. it takes a lot of government time and money. i do think it is worth doing. we do not do it nearly enough. but it has been something -- government, at times, is wasteful in what it does not do as much as it is in what it does do.
it never is risen to the top level as i think it should and hope it does. one of the reasons i did not want a government-run option is because that would have been a dumping ground for another government program to provide insurance and move away from the private market. i believe in the private market for insurance. there are cases where people are not insurable in the private market, that you have a government program. that is why it came about. we are capable of crunching numbers to figure out how you cover people of a certain age when you have an entire block of them. we were able to find a way to do it through a private market, which is my preference. sometimes, they are not necessary.
we ought to distinguish and not throw one against the other or think they can compete. they cannot. the private market has not been able to find a way to cover seniors 65 and above without trading dollars. that is why it became a government program. >> let me go back to the idea of compromise and independence. barack obama talk about compromise. for you, described as a conservative democrat, who was criticized by your own party members when you compromised, and that targeted by the gop for reelection, what is your thought about the art of compromise and how much it is valued in this city?
>> it is valued to talk about it. when one wants to work together. they send people back here who are committed not to work together. you have individuals who will not compromise, it becomes difficult to merge ideas and find compromises and accommodations in process or in implementation as opposed to principles. nobody has asked to compromise his or her principles when you are talking about compromise. not eliminating your view about one thing or another, so i think the word compromises over used, underutilized, and miss understood by an awful lot of
people. -- misunderstood by an awful lot of people. it does not mean throwing in thei have a couple friends i have talked to about compromises and i found in one instance there idea of a compromise is when i see it their way. when i give up where i am as opposed to finding common ground. finding a middle way to do something rather than black or white. there is gray. you find out what shades of gray you can adjust to. it is almost always not about principles. it is about implementation. >> what are some of the reasons the city got to this point? >> let me explain my political math. addition and multiplication. there are others whose political math might be subtraction and division.
division in politics, the fighting with wedge issues and turning things into hateful mess, can win elections under -- hatefulness can win elections under certain circumstances. this country has been divided. you cannot stay stock. as lincoln said, a country divided against itself cannot stand. if you look at where we have been, obstructionism, deadlock, gridlock, not being able to move forward, pushing this country to a fiscal cliff, pushing a year and a half ago toward default on borrowing obligations, there are enough people now who have taken the approach that you have got to
bring this country to its knees to bring it to the senses. that means defaults, over the cliff, whenever it means. that is not productive and it is not necessary and we should not be thinking that way. we have to come together on this. those who want more spending understand there will be less spending. those who do not want to deal with taxes at all, now there is some softening about where they are prepared to go on that. has been the division that has gotten to the point of almost hatefulness. go back to 2009, the frustrations of people coming out, this is their country, and
ankles people had not seen any more, toward one another as opposed to civil discourse. that is where we are. we are moving away from it because people back home are beginning to see it and say, that is not what i want. i want to see my way wind. if my way cannot win, i want the country to win. >> hard line partisan has contributed? >> it contributes to it. i am in favor, i do not know at what level you have the commission, but get it out of the hands of those who do it for their own interests. that is wrong. it should not be about whether or not i have saved my seat by gerrymandering around to bring more republicans or democrats or get some out of my district. that is wrong.
i had to deal with it when i was governor, and i told them i would not accept the plan i put up because that is what they did, splitting a county unnecessarily. my preference would have been to have somebody from the outside sitting down in a reasonable fashion as to what is best for the country, the district, the state. >> americans more and more identify themselves as political independence. -- political independents. what has that done over the past decades? >> not as much as super committees and the citizens united case. less partisanship.
i happen to believe in political parties. in the nebraska legislatures, non-partisan. people run for the seat. they do not run as republicans or democrats. you know generally who they are, but it is not uncommon for democrats to be chairman of committees, even if there is a majority of republicans unofficially. i come from an environment developed by the late senator who came to nebraska and fought -- the late senator george w. norris who came to nebraska and fought for the legislature and officially was non-partisan. some people say he did it because he wanted to save money. to just it saves money have one house. the main reason he did it was to get rid of the conference committees that we go through back here.
the work is a pile up on the football field. it changes hands five times before they blow the whistle. what we have in nebraska is officially nonpartisan and works. that is a backdrop for me. when i came here in a partisan environment, i said, i do not have to subscribe to a non partisan environment. my goal was one nebraska, not a republican or democratic or east or west. i represent all the people, even those who voted against me. urban-rural. i have taken that independent approach back here. i have to represent all of the people. that just some of the people. >> did you ever contemplate becoming an independent?
>> no, because the democratic party never pushed me out. i have been well excepted by the democrats in nebraska. and independents. and enlightened republicans. ultimately, the democrats did not leave me, so why would i leave the democrats? >> there are so many changes that happened in this country. the whole concept of national security and how that has changed since 9/11 and whether we are in a better place? >> most people feel we are safer than we were. that is what national security is about. it is a state of mind sometimes as much as it is a state of
security. i think people feel they are better off. i am glad that is the case. what we have gone through is a difficult price, a high price, to get to this level. it is not just the at an airport. pull my car into the building anymore. id. it is not that. what i worry most about is what we have given to the government in terms of the ability of the government to spy on us and how that has evolved. people are bothered as much by that as they are about almost anything else.
i think we have to continue to reconsider some of the things that have been done, the granting of broad powers for investigating, so we do not make a permanent mistake for a temporary experience to protect ourselves from radical islamists and terrorists who continue to be ready to sacrifice themselves to take us out. i hope we reconsider some of the things we have put in place and ask, are they the reason we are safe? if they are gone, would we be less safe?
are there other ways to be able to do some of the security measures that would get a better result? i believe in cost-benefit analysis. if the cost is too high, weighed against the benefit, you have to ask, should we do that? what is the risk assessment we get from these measures? i think you need to take a common sense, rational approach to them rather than an emotional reaction. >> what are your reflections on the country's prosecution of the two major wars? >> it is pretty hard to be critical of the role we have had in going into afghanistan to reduce the taliban and to eliminate it as a safe haven for the al qaeda operatives as it was at that time. it is pretty hard to be against that. getting out has taken longer
than any other war in history, to extricate ourselves in an appropriate fashion. we were told there were weapons of mass defection. i think people have legitimate questions to ask about iraq. >> what about your own views? >> my reflection is, what i have voted just to take out suddam hussein? no. would i vote to take out saddam hussein because he has weapons of mass destruction that he could use against us or others, israel, or other locations? that is a different question.
>> we have a few minutes left. sometimes i see the description of you as a penny pincher. with that perspective, how did the country get into the situation we are in right now, with the huge debate over the size of the deficit and the debt? >> go back to 2001 and thereafter. the cost of the wars was not included in the budget. they were always supplemental. they did not show as a deficit. while the budgets looked reasonable during that time, the actual spending was greater.
people did not pay as much attention to the debt. it just kept mounting and growing. we borrowed to pay for the worse when we did not ask people to make sacrifices financially. there is a difference between borrowing in the future, pang forward and backwards, or having to pay right now. people might have felt differently if they had felt a pinch right at the time. they would have asked different questions than were asked. that is one of the reasons we got where we are. >> could you have been any more vocal about appropriations? >> i was vocal. when i got on the appropriations committee, i became chairman of the legislative branch. that is everything, all of the
buildings. office buildings, 1700 capitol police forces, and all of their help, support staff. i held the growth flat. then we cut it by almost 5%. this time around, we let it grow a little bit higher. protect the dome so it did not fall in. what i tried to do was be as tight as three coats of paint, penny pinching to make sure if we set an example of reducing growth, if we could do it, others would not point to us and say, they are being hypocritical.
i had more than a few comments from my colleagues about cutting back on senate budgets for your office and stuff like that. that is what you have to do. you have to watch the pennies and dollars every day in government, or they will get away from you. they do. we do not have enough people willing to say, no, to increase spending. the spending is not all wasteful. the question is is it all necessary or necessary to be done that way. >> mitt romney kept saying this country could be on the road to be more like greece if we did not get our arms around it. the unemployment rate remains high. are you optimistic in the short term about our country's future.
>> it is hard to be. i tried to be. if we can get this resolved, this fiscal cliff situation, and have a pathway to seeing the deficit be reduced, cannot do it overnight, if we can see there is a path, a trajectory of slowing down the growth of spending to the point you can see the deficit will ultimately go away over a reasonable time, people will start investing again, hiring again, and i spoke to a business group yesterday and asked if they would hire just because they get a tax credit for hiring people. they said no. if you see the deficit will go away and there is hope we are on the right path to fiscal sanity, will you then hired? yes. we will have markets for our products and services and then we will need more people.
we are stuck right now because all we have done for a year and a half was kick the can down the road. i voted against the act a year- and-a-half ago because i predicted we would be right where we were going to be at the end of this year. we had a year and a half to work together and build a bridge so we would not fall off a cliff. what did we do? electioneering. it was all about waiting until the election is over. when the elections become more important than governing the country, you get into the trouble we are in. it is not just wild spending. it is not just tax loopholes. it is about governing and fiscally managing things as you go along. it does not just have to be in the white house. it has got to be in congress as well.
>> given the frustrations you have voice, if a grandchild said they want to go into politics, would you rejoice? >> i would be straightforward with them. when i decided i wanted to run for governor, somebody asked me if my skin was thick enough. i said, sure. i would encourage them to do it. there are bumps in the road and historical changes we have all seen and they will continue to happen. i predict longer-term there will be more independent-minded people who want to work together to get things accomplished. the bipartisan word will ultimately have more application.
i was amused harry reid came back from a meeting at the white house and was asked what happened and whether there was a lot of happy talk. we have to move from that to the appropriate action. i understand you have to stand for principle. i also know this country has to move forward. ideologically driven to extremes, special interest groups, and others who are not willing to sit down and find solutions, are causing us to be stuck. somebody said we are neutral. you cannot be in neutral if you are in reverse. you are losing ground. that is a temporary situation. the question is how long. i do not know.
i am optimistic because we cannot continue this way. people will ultimately understand we cannot. hopefully, that is before this year ends. >> what is it like to be a lame duck? >> you are not a dead duck. you are still in office. the session almost becomes like daffy duck if you are not careful. i am as committed today to finishing this job by the very last day as i was when i started. the majority got us into this mess right now by passing the budget control act not working together. i want the members of house and senate in both caucuses remember it was bipartisan to work together to get us out of it.
i pledge to continue to work. i knew in my heart of hearts all we would do was kick the can down the road. it all comes to the ultimate deadline. i worried things would get worse. you do not resolve things with procrastination. >> what do you think about doing next? >> i will not retire. i have no desire to. i may slow down. somebody asked if i will be as interested as what is going on in washington as you are this year. of course. but i will take time for myself and family and friends. i intend to be engaged and hopefully someone will ask me to
serve on an advisory board. i will occupy my time with productive pursuits, some of them that i have had to put off. people have said why did you not just run for a third term. i looked at the game clock and i know i can do those things today, but seven years is a lot of time and i did not see how i'd ever get back to the bucket list. one of my kids said i want more time with you. with grandkids and family, you need to spend more time doing that. they have sacrificed more than i have actually. i have been able to do what i have wanted to do and they have had to give up time with me.
it is time for them not to have to sacrifice. >> enjoy the pursuit of the bucket list and thank you for the time you gave to us. >> great to be with you. thank you. >> taking you inside the white house briefing room where president obama is expected to talk about the fiscal cliff and his meeting earlier that broke up about 4:15 p.m. eastern. it is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. eastern. the dow jones closed down nearly 160 points. the negotiations on capitol hill and at the white house. we are hearing from reporters about the importance of the next 48 hours. major garrett is on the right. he tweeted that the white house meeting in did and the president
did not move from his $250,000 income tax threshold for tax increases and gopers sought a higher threshold. as senator reid came from the white house he said that timing is -- we are out of time. that is why the next 48 hours is important. we will take your calls after the president's remarks. and we would hear from the president. we will take a look at some more conversation about the fiscal cliff, this one on national security and sequestration from an earlier "washington journal ."
host: we are continuing our series, looking at different parts of the fiscal cliff talks. joining us now is robert levenson, a senior defense analyst at bloomberg government. let's begin with what secret -- with what sequestration means. caller -- guest: it is a funny term. if you have looked it up on google 20 months ago, it would have something to do with coal and carbon, but this is about automatic cuts going into place known as sequestration. host: how did this come about? where is it headed? caller: as we recall from last year, there was a crisis over raising the debt ceiling. republicans demanded some cuts from congress. they agreed to $1 trillion in cuts, they handed over $1.50 trillion to the super committee. because they failed to come up with a deal that could be approved by congress and the president, those automatic cuts go into effect, $1.20 trillion over 10 years.
the first cut will go into effect on january 2 of 2013. host: how are the defense sequestration cuts being applied? are we sure? guest: we are not exactly sure, but the law says that every program and activity must be cut by the same percentage. there may be some flexibility, but the understanding is that you have to go across the board and cut everything by the same amount, estimated to be about 9.4% in the case of the pentagon. host: what is on the table for the pentagon? guest: everything can be cut, but the president has the power to exempt military personnel, and he has indicated that he would do that.
everything else is basically on the table. weapons systems, operations maintenance accounts, protected service member salary, all of those services are part of the great man's budget. host: what about procurement? caller: things that they buy. -- guest: things that they buy. and again, all of those programs, like the 30 -- like a fighter jet, that is on the table as well. host: military construction, what is that? guest of the money that the military spends to build the bases and various other facilities. host: testing and evaluation, is that big money? guest: it can be. before weapons systems are built there is a whole research and development fund.
>> good afternoon, everybody. for the last couple of months i have been working with leaders of both parties to try to forge an agreement that would grow our economy and shrink the deficit that would cut spending in a responsible way and ask wealthy americans to pay more and protect our middle-class and everyone driving to get into would. i want to get this done.
it is the right thing to do for families, businesses, and our economy. the hour for immediate action is here. it is now. we are at the point where in four days every american's tax rates are scheduled to go up by law. will americans' paychecks get smaller. that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy, for middle- class families, and for businesses that depend on family spending. congress can prevent it if they act right now. i had a good discussion about how to prevent the tax hike on the middle class. we may reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time. senators reid and mcconnell are
working on such an agreement as we speak. agreement is not reached in time between senator reid and senator mcconnell, then i will urge senator reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up or down vote to protect the middle class from an income tax hike, provide a lifeline of unemployment insurance, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction. i believe such a proposal could pass both houses as long as those leaders allow it to come to a vote. if members of the house or senate want to vote no, they can, but we shall let everybody vote. that is the way this is supposed to work. if you can get a majority in the
house and senate, we should be able to pass the bill. the american people are watching what we do. their patience is already thin. all overeja vu again. why is it that in this town you cannot get stuff done in an organized timetable? everything has to wait until the last minute. we are at the last minute. the american people are not going to have any patients for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. not right now the economy is growing, but sustaining that will require elected officials to do their jobs. the housing market is recovering, but that could be impacted if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 2008. you are seeing businesses and consumers hold back because of
the dysfunction they see in washington. economists, business leaders think we are poised to grow in 2013 as long as politics in washington do not get in the way of america's progress. we've got to get this done. i want to repeat -- we had a constructive meeting today. senators reid and mcconnell are discussing a potential agreement or we can get a bipartisan bill out of the senate over to the house and done in a timely fashion so we meet the december 31 deadline. given how things have been working in this town, we always have to wait and see until it actually happens. the one thing the american people should not have to wait and see is some sort of action. if we do not see an agreement between the two leaders in the senate, i expect a bill to go on the floor. i have asked senator reid to do
this. put a bill on the floor of that make sure taxes on the middle class does not go up, that unemployment insurance is available for 2 million people, and it lays the groundwork for additional deficit reduction. let us not miss this deadline. that is the bare minimum we should be able to get done. it should not be hard since democrats and republicans say they do not want to see taxes go up on middle-class families. i have to repeat -- outside of washington, nobody understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern over and over again. ordinary folks do their jobs. they meet deadlines. they sit down and they discuss things and then things happen. if there are disagreements, they
sort through them. the notion that our elected leadership cannot do the same thing is mind-boggling to them. it needs to stop. i am modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved. no one will get 100% of what they want. let us make sure that middle- class families in the economy are not adversely impacted because people cannot do their jobs. thank you very much, everybody.
>> taking a look at the white house briefing room, president of obamas remarks is he still would like to get a deal done. we want to hear what you think. you have the phone numbers on the screen. if you are republican call 202- 585-3885. andocrats, 202-5853886 z independents 202-585-3887. meet your tv. -- mute your tv if you call in. the president is optimistic that the senators will reach an agreement in time.
let us hear from curt from akron, ohio on the democrats' line. >> hello. good evening. i called on the democratic line only because i voted democratic but i have some reservation about this president. when it comes down to it, i have a couple of points. everybody across the board needs to have a 15% increase in what they paid for their health care. to help lower the cost of health care from president obama down to the medicaid recipients. that needs to be first. this whole idea of messing around with getting this done, not doing this during the election and waiting days before the fiscal cliff where we go off. the president should have held
what i would call a slumber party and have him, the congressional leadership, and the cabinet locked in a room, bringing their materials and say we will stay and have a summer party and bring this thing out before everyone can go >> i think they need to lock themselves in a room and just bang this whole thing out. >> we're going to hear from john calling from maryland, just outside of d.c. on the republicans' line. what do you think? >> i don't care for what they are doing. my question to you, the fiscal cliff negotiations, i have not heard one person say anything about eliminating foreign aid to these countries to pay off or debt. that has to be trillions of dollars.
>> adrian is on the line in iowa on the democrats line. go ahead. >> hello. i just want to say obama -- they should do what the obama says he is the president of the united states. obama should -- they should listen to obama and go ahead and do the fiscal cliff automatic. because if they pass it, everything will be a relief on the $16 trillion and it will be gone. middle class has been paying taxes ever since they started taxes and the higher class they need to have their turn and pay taxes. we need to layoff and do more taxes -- >> sorry to cut you off. we are, of course, earlier, we had the president meeting at the white house. he sent the senators and all the other leaders, the house and
senate back to try to work on an agreement. it sounds like the ball is on the court of the senate floor. you can see live here, they are trying to work out some kind of a deal that could go to the house. the president spoke earlier he talked about a up or down vote, pushing an up or down vote in congress if a deal could not be reached in time that could pass at both chambers. back to your phone calls. lynn is on the independent line in rhode island. what do you think about what happened at the white house and what the president had to say? >> i'm very scared. my granddaughter's future is at risk. i don't want to see our deficit go up any higher. i know we need more taxes, i think the president wants us to
go over the fiscal cliff because he knows his plan won't bring in the revenue that we need to curtail the extra spending. i don't want it to happen but i think it is going to. >> kevin is on the line for democrats calling from new york. >> yes, hello. i just want to make the comment something regarding personal economy that everyone needs to be aware of. that is, when you are in tough times you cut spending. the government needs to cut spendinging, trim the fat. it is just the principle of personal economy. >> what do you think the likelihood is of that, kevin? >> i am worried there is not a high likelihood. you constantly have government program that have to fund themselves.
it is just too much. i think the communities need to live more locally. at a local level, your town, your city, your neighborhood, and personal charity is better than government taking on all of this responsibility. >> sorry if i cut you off. you can see there president obama speaking just a moment ago from the white house briefing room. he talked about that he is optimistic that senators are working on an agreement right now and the president would bring an up or down vote on a middle-class tax hike and unemployment insurance if congress cannot reach an agreement that will pass both chambers. we're going to go to shawn on the independent line.
>> good evening. they will find a deal. the real date is not until january 31 when you will really see the severe impacts. the markets are having some turbulence that is caused by the politicians. we should look at our senators, the congressman, and the staffers who work their offices and see how they are trading in the stock market. they should be subject to the filings that the f.c.c. requires of corporations when trading their own stock. 15 day notice prior to buying stock and i think you will see less drama going on and [laughter] -minute changes. >> shawn, you mentioned that the dow jones closed down 150 points today. we're going take one more call, this is jack from california on the democrats line.
what do you think, jack? >> i think that the -- well, there is a couple of things. we don't know all the numbers, all exactly what is going on but we do know a couple of things. we know that president obama was elected because we want and we believe in his ideas and we think he can do this. another thing, we know who -- all this childish behavior that is going on we know who those people are. you know what, it is the republican tea party people and there is only a few of them. why can't the republicans and the democrats getting together and just ignore that tea party and get the work done. >> do you think that will affect elections in the future? >> absolutely. absolutely. i'm going to go out there and walk the beat too and i've had enough of this, you know.
it is ridiculous. they are acting like children out there. >> we're going to take your phone calls again but first we're going to take a look at recent comments on the senate floor. senator reid and mcconnell talking about the fiscal cliff. back to your calls after we hear their comments. >> we had a constructive meeting, we hope that something will come from that. our our staffs are working to see what we can come up with. we shouldn't take a long time to do that. i think it will be in everyone's interest if we were not in session tomorrow. it is my plan to come in at 1:00, we have an hour in our previous agreement that we have. there's an hour of debate on
that. we have another -- we have another vote that has been set up. >> you're talking about sunday, right? >> yeah, sunday. votes a little after 2:00 and for us we're going to have another caucus following that. and hopefully by that time we'll make a determination whether we can do something on the floor in addition in what i just talked about. i think we need that time to have everybody step back a little bit. if we come up with something it is not that easy. some of the stuff we're doing is more complicated. i think it is was a very positive meeting. there was a lot of hail lairty in the meeting, everybody knows how important it is.
>> mr. president, i share the view of the majority leader. we had a good meeting at the white house. we are engaged in discussions, the majority leader and myself and the white house in the hopes we can come forward as early as sunday and have a recommendation that i can make to my conference and the majority leader can make to his conference. we're going to work hard to see if we can get there in the next 24 hours. i'm hopeful and optimistic. >> i'm going to do everything i can and i'm confident that senator mcconnell will do the same. whatever we come up with is going be imperfect and some people will not like it and some people will like it less. but that where we are. we have an obligation and we're going to do the best we can and that was made clear in the white house. we're going to do the best we
can for the white house and the country that is waiting for us to make a decision. >> we're taking your phone calls. republicans' line -- also just an update david gregory from "meet the press" says that president obama is going to appear on the show this weekend. we heard from the president a little bit ago. he still wants to get a deal done and he talks about the affects of the tax increases. we're going to bring you his comments in just a little bit. we're going to head to washington where bob is on the line. >> my comment is, i think the president is wrong. he wants to tax the people who actually provide the jobs for the country. and it is always tax us now and spending cuts later and i don't
think the spending cuts are ever going to happen. if they do, it will only be for a short period of a couple of times before the base line budgeting will eat up the cuts. it is always tax, tax, and spend. this country can't afford that anymore. we can't pay what we o'now. >> willard is on the line from san diego, california. let's try one more time for willard. moving on to monica, she's in florida on the republicans line. >> yes, i was listening to the president speak about the budget. i notice he did not talk about the $250,000 being taxed. i think he's going to do like he did last time, make sure the middle-class has the
unemployment and the middle class is secure on taxes. however, i think they are going to keep the bush tax cuts over into the next year and i think there could have been a greater negotiation. i think some taxes need to be raised on the rich. the republicans are willing to do that but we have a tea party problem. i don't consider tale tea party republicans. the new republicans that are in there are being blocked. >> how is that going to affect the tea party and the future for the republicans? >> i think the republicans are going to realize that the tea party -- they already realize it is a problem and they are going to rally behind the scenes to get them out. i think people need to look at that and learn how to separate the tea party from the real republicans and get those people out of office and let's get some good solid republicans in there that are willing to negotiate.
boehner is doing the best job he could do. >> we're going to head to san diego, california, we have willard on the line he's a democrat. >> i'm still here and it's a pleasure being on your show this afternoon. i'm an american, i'm a democrat, but i feel confident in the political process that we have. i feel confident and optimistic that both perts, republicans and democrats alike, now that we're burning the midnight oil we'll see the importance of not allowing such a strong, vital country go into a so-called fiscal cliff. >> willard, why have they let it hang on for this long, the process? >> in my opinion, it is politics. nothing but politics. i'm asking that our elected officials take a step back, get into the mind's eye of those of us who have voted them in for the best interest of america's
interest. we don't want to -- we're having problems already. we're talking about how china is taking over. what we need to make some decisions that is going to help the america people, corporate america, middle-class america, those individuals that are not in the capacity whatever so ever, i expect our elected officials to getting together, work this thing out, do the right thing, quit the fighting and come up with a solution even if they have to go back after the fact and just get things the way they are supposed to be. >> some of the expectations there from willard. we're going to go on to cal on the republicans line in tennessee. what do you think of the fiscal cliff and where the negotiations are so far? >> i think they ought to go over
the fiscal cliff. we have people like that that are on the government bill too long. they are sucking the tit of the federal government. i think everyone should pay their fair share. we have almost a $17 billion national debt. not only, the rich but everyone should pay their fair share. we also need some spending cuts too. $3 for every $1. if you don't do this we're going top find ourselfs in a situation -- you want to talk about unemployment, we're not going to be in a recession we're going to be in a depression. if we don't do this now, what are we going to do when the debt is at $23 trillion. what are we going to do then? >> we're going to bring you president obama's remark again
shortly. we're taking a if you more calls. the numbers are on your screen and let us know what you think of the fiscal cliff negotiations so far. brian is on the independent line. go ahead. >> yes, ma'am. we don't have a revenue problem. it's a spending problem. this president has spent more money all the other presidents combined up to this point. as a business owner, i have to keep my books. i can't spend money i don't have. when you theed to cut spending out to make your bottom line right, that's what you have to do. it is a good thing to have revenue coming in but you don't fault people for making a living . >> brian, where would you want to see the spending cuts happen? >> all the entitlements need to be looked at. it is relick you louse. you don't have to have a job.
they need to do something to entitlements. you can't afford paying what we're paying out. you can tax us at 100% we're still not going to have enough money to cover it. >> let's hear what carol has to say. she's on the democrats line. >> hi. i'm calling because i'm a person that actually got laid off three times. ok, every time i got a job something happened with the company and i got laid off. as far as unemployment i called about unemployment. i know what they are saying, cut unemployment, cut this, and cut that. you have to be in the person's shoes to know. it is not -- the gentleman that was ahead of me, who says you can't stay on unemployment
without working. there are no jobs. you don't understand the stress of are you going to lose your house? can you pay your light bill? can you pay your medical insurance? i'm calling for the people who are suffered like i am suffering. >> what do you think the president and congress should do about the tax cuts and the tax increases and the spending cuts? >> well, number one, i think everybody should come together. we're grown ups, we're not children. even if you meet each other halfway with these cuts they should come together and let the american people know that we have a country that we depends on that is going to help us out. right now, we're sitting here, we have no jobs, we can't find jobs and yet, there is no jobs and yet, we don't know if they are going cut the people off, like i just got cut off.
i don't have a job. i can't find a job. so the people who say they can find jobs maybe you should find them jobs. >> we're going to leave it there. the president met with the congressional leaders and he talked about extendsing unemployment insurance and he talked about middle-class tax hikes and just having a tax increase for those who make more than $250,000. we're going to take gail's call in arkansas on the republicans line. >> yes, i always voted republican, i'm 52 years old. this year i voted dralt and the reason being, i have had a hard time i'm divorced, my folks have passed away and i've had a hard time since 2009. i've had a couple of different jobs, i was a cash yur at a grocery store.
i have two degrees and i'm going to school again. i'm going school because obama put in -- he made it easier to go to school and get help. but, on the other hand, i'm disappointed in obama that he is not doing something quickly to relieve our stress. i'm on unemployment right now and the hard thing about finding a job these days, one day you hear about companies hiring. the next day you hear about another company laying off 300 people. walmart has been laying off people every year since 1990's and those people got great resumes. that is our competition. yes, i'm on food stamps and unemployment and it is a scary proposition. i don't want to be here. i go in a to a place three times a year to get help with my electric. i have to sit there from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the
morning. i'm so grateful and when i do get a job, with the schooling now, i'm going into the medical field. i hope i can put back. >> that's gail. last call is going to be froms we in south carolina on the democrats line. s we, go ahead. >> well, glad to be here. the other caller called in doing the talking points. they don't have a taxing problem we have a spemmedsing problem. spending problems are because of unpaid spending which was brought about by the republican party. look, barack obama, as best has he can try to square this circle and make it right is dealing with a party that is basically, degenerating him to obama hatred. that is not me, back in 2008 he said and i quote, the republican
is less and less like a traditional party. it is more like an cult than anything barack obama he does is the end of the world. >> what do you think is going to happen in the next two days? do you think they will reach an agreement? >> i'm not sure. i hope they do. obama ran on we're not raising taxes. now, income is a weird thing. i mean, look, i can make $250,000 in income as a working person and my taxes will go up. but if i was mitt romney the ex-presidential loser who made $15 million based on -- what is it tax deferred investments then my taxes won't go up a bit. the republican party is not interested in helping this country they are helping a
narrow sliver. >> we're going to leave it there. we're going to keep continuing coverage bringing you updates from the white house or the floor of the capitol. we heard from president obama earlier from the white house briefing room. we're going to take a look at his comments now on the fiscal cliff and the prospects for a deal going forward. >> good afternoon, everybody. for the past couple of months i've been working with leaders from both parties to try to forge an agreement that will grow our economy and shrink the deficit. a balanced plan that will cut spending in a responsible way but also ask the wealthiest americans to pay a little more. above all, avoid the taxing the middle class. i still want to get this done.
it is the right thing to do for our families, businesses, and our expire economy. but the hour for immediate action is here. it is now. we're now at the point where in just four days every american's tax rates are scheduled to go up by law. every america's paycheck will get considerably smaller. that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy, it would be bad for middle-class families and it would be bad for businesses that depend on family spending. fortunately, congress can prevent it from happening if they act right now. i just had a good and constructive discussion with senate and house leadership on how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class. i'm optimistic that we may still be able to reach an agreement that will pass both houses in time. senators reid and mcconnell are
working on such an agreement as we speak. but if an agreement isn't reached in time between senator reid and senator mcconnell then i will urge senator reid bring to a floor a basic a package to the floor for an up and down vote. it will prevent tax hike for the middle class, it will extend unemployment insurance and lays the ground work for future corporation on more economic growth and deficit reduction. i believe such proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to come to a vote. if members of the house or the senate want to vote know, they can. but we should let everyone vote. this is the way it is supposed to work. if you can get a majority in the house and the senate then beshed
able to pass a bill. so the american poom people are watching what we are doing here. obviously their patience is already thin. this is deja vu all over again. america wonders why in this town you can't get stuff done in an organized timetable. why everything has to wait until the last minute? now, we're at the last minute and the american people are not going have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. not right now. the economy is growing but sustaining that trend is going to require elected officials to do their jobs. the housing market is recovering but that could be impacted if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. the unemployment is the lowest its been since 2008 but you're seeing businesses and consumers
hold back because of the dysfunction they see in washington. economists, business leaders, all think we are posed to grow in 2013 as long as pot ticks in washington don't get in the way of america's progress. we have to get this done. i want to repeat, we had a constructive meeting today. senators reid and mcconnell are discussing an agreement so we can get a bipartisan bill in the house and the senate so we can meet the december 31 deadline. given how things are working in this town, we always have to wait and see until it actually happens. the one thing that american people should snot have to wait and see is some sort of action. if we don't see an agreement between the two leaders in the senate, i expect a bill to go on the floor, andive asked senator
reid to do this, put a bill on the floor that taxes on middle-class families don't go up, unemployment insurance is still available for two million people and that lays the ground work for additional debt reduction and steps we can take in the new year. let's not miss this deadline. it shouldn't be that hard since democrats and republicans both say they don't want to see tax goes up on middle-class families. i just have to repeat, outside of washington, nobody understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern over and over. ordinary folks, they do their jobs, they meet deadlines, they sit down and discuss things and then things happen. if they have disagreements they sort through them.
the notion that our elected leadership can't do the same thing is mind-boggling to them. it needs to stop. so i'm optimistic that an agreement can be achieved. nobody will get 100% of what they want but let's make sure that middle-class families and the world economy is not adversely impacted because people can't do their jobs. thank you very much, everybody. >> president obama talking about a possible up or down vote if congress cannot come to an agreement that both houses can agree on. after his meeting earlier today we heard from senate majority leader harry reid and mitch mcconnell and let's hear what they had to say from the floor
of the senate. >> what plans we were talking about is that everyone knows we've been to the white house, we had a constructive meeting. we hope that something will -- positive will come out of that. we're working to see what we can come up with. we shouldn't take a long time to do that. i think it would be to everyone's interest that we're not in session tomorrow. my plan to come in at 1:00, we have an hour in our previous agreement that we have. there's an hour of debate, we will have a vote, we have another vote that has been set up. >> you're talking about sunday, right? >> sunday, right. the vote will start a little
after 2:00 and for us we're going to have another caucus following that. hopefully by that time we will make that determination senator mcconnell and i will do something in addition to what we talked about. i think we need that time to have everybody step back a little bit. if we come up with something it is not that easy. some of the stuff we do is complicated but i think it was a positive meeting. everyone knows how important it is. it is a very serious meeting and it took an extended period of time waiting for us. >> mr. president, i share the view of the majority leader that we had a good meeting at the white house. we are engaged in discussions the majority leered and myself and the white house in the hopes we can come forward as early as
sunday and have a recommendation that i can make toll my conference and the majority leader can make to his conference. we'll be working hard to see if we can get there in the next 24 hours. so i'm hopeful and optimistic. >> i'm going to do everything i can and i'm confident that senator mcconnell will do the same. everybody, whatever we come up with it is going to be imperfect. some people won't like it and some people will like it less. but that is where we are. we have an obligation to do the best we can and that was made clear in the white house we're going to do the best we can for the caucuses that we have and the country that is waiting for us to make a decision. >> you can find the senator's comments and other things on our special web page set up for all things related to fiscal cliff access to videos and briefings and hearings, you can follow a
twitter feed. check out our resource area that features articles and documents all available at c-span .org/fiscal cliff. we heard from the white house and congress about the fiscal cliff. here's a look at possible affects on homeownership if an agreement can't be reached. host: randal o'toole is a senior fellow at the cato institute in washington and is the author of this book on how government undermines the dream of home ownership. thanks for being with us. >> good morning. glad to be here. host: how does the government affect homeowners buying a home? guest: 45% of american housing is in states and urban areas that have severe land-use restrictions, urban growth boundaries to prevent urban sprawl. they have other kinds of restrictions such as onerous permitting processes that it takes up to five years to get a
permit to build up to one house. that makes it very hard for builders to meet demand for housing. when that happens, housing prices become very expensive. homeownership rates dropped. the federal government has long had a policy of promoting home ownership. we have various subsidies for home ownership, but ironically, when the federal subsidies for home ownership collide with the state and local restrictions on home ownership, you end up with higher housing prices and lower home ownership rates. so the federal programs are doing more harm than good. the state programs are definitely doing more harm than good. we need to end this kind of undermining of home ownership. host: as of the late 1960's, in the book, america's home ownership rate of more than 60% was one of the highest in the world.
why the disparity? guest: since the 1960's, states like california and florida and most of the new england states have imposed huge land use restrictions and ownership is declining in many of those states. states like texas and georgia and north carolina at imposed those kind of restrictions, so they have higher homeownership rates. you look around the world and it's amazing to see the countries that we don't think of as well countries have much higher homeownership rates than we do. mexico has 84% homeownership compared with 65% year. brazil has 75%. lots of countries that we think of as being less wealthy than we are have much higher homeownership rates. i think it's because of ownership is not a function of well. it's a function of government getting in the way or staying out of the way. host: the debate we are facing
today and this weekend, issue of the fiscal cliff, one aspect of the debate is eliminating or reducing or changing the mortgage deduction on our tax filings every april. should congress? provide tax congress is that part of the problem you're right about in your book? guest: the tax breaks are supposed to assist some ownership. actually, they benefit mainly wealthy people. you have to pretty much to earn more than $55,000 per year. more than the median income, to be able to declare the tax break. the wealthy people who would already be buying a home anyway would get the tax break. i don't think it assists home ownership. it adds to% or 3% to home ownership rates. if we get rid of the mortgage interest deduction. at the same time, the state and local areas that do land-use restrictions got rid of their land use restrictions, we would see much higher homeownership rates.
host: what about second homes? guest: same thing. land-use restrictions are restricting second homes. if we had less land-use restrictions, we would see more second homes. host: back to the book -- guest: that's right. it is erroneous to say that we had a housing bubble. instead we had many housing bubbles. the housing bubble sat almost perfectly correlated with the state and local areas that have land-use restrictions. california had a severe housing bubble because it has some of the strict land-use regulations in the country. texas had no housing bubble because it has almost no land-use restrictions. if you look around the country,
if you took away those land-use restrictions in places like massachusetts and florida and california, we would not have an housing bubbles. we would not have had a housing mortgage crisis or a financial crisis. it was the land use restrictions that caused the bubbles that caused the financial crisis. host: the right about that in chapter 13 -- what's the parallel? guest: the tulip bubble, there was a limited number of bulbs, so they were buying bulbs into the future instead. in california, demand went up because interest rates went down because prime lenders started lending to low-income
families. home builders were not able to meet the demand, prices went up. in texas, it takes as low as 120 days to get all the permits you need to build a house and moved in after you have bought the land. when demand went up, home construction went up and there was no increase in housing prices. host: now department housing and urban developed and it issued this statement -- your response? guest: the reality is private
industry was already financing homes long before the federal government got into home finance. we had the building and loan association. now we call it savings and loan associations. it started in 18 80's. they enable people to buy who previously had been unable to buy homes. in the late 18th century, homeownership rates were higher among blue-collar people than the middle class. the working class of home ownership as something that was valuable for their family and the middle class did not. the building and loan societies and through other techniques, a working-class was able to build high homeownership rates. and the so-called war on sprawl and the zoning where efforts by the middle class to make war on the working class to reduce working-class home ownership rates, to keep the working-class out of their neighborhoods. so we have the federal government on one hand saying
it's time to improve home ownership and we have urban planners and other middle-class people saying let's keep the working class out of our neighborhoods, let's keep them from owning homes. it went to a standstill. i home ownership is no higher today than 40 years ago. host: this from one of our viewers -- guest: the alternative minimum tax affects only the wealthiest people. i don't think anybody is not going to own a home because of the alternative minimum tax. the problem with the alternative minimum tax is it is affecting low end lower income brackets all the time, but it's not necessarily affecting home ownership. this is like the mortgage interest deduction and alternative minimum tax can do is affect the size of the homes we buy. we might buy 4000 square foot home with the mortgage interest deduction instead of a 3500 square foot home.
but it does not affect home ownership rates as we might expect. host: the book is entitled "government nightmare." our guest is randal o'toole. what are your recommendations? guest: the most important thing is for states to repeal the strict land-use restrictions. florida has led the way. last year florida repealed its 1985 growth management law that required cities regarding boundaries throughout the state. it would be great if california and new england states could do the same. if those states could act, we would no longer have a housing crisis. on the other hand, the obama administration wants to impose land-use rules on all 400 major metropolitan areas in the country. the obama administration has its way, is a crisis will be twice as bad as the last one. host: our phone lines are open with randal o'toole.
you can also send us an e-mail or join us on our twitter page or our facebook page. bob is on the republican line from greenville, south carolina. caller: good morning. 35% of the homes in las vegas are leading up to the bible were second homes. that was speculation by individual americans, the individual people. in many cases they were building up the bubble. for you not to a device that blows my mind. in california people on home prices would never come down. a certain percentage of the people were to blame for the home bubble gum does like they were to blame for the tech bubble. now they have loans attached to them and many walk away and then we have to print money from the federal reserve. how can you deny this did not happen? people just on home prices will go up forever and i will jump in
and take a hold of this and then they go down and everybody wants to blame someone else. you don't see that at all happening in this equation? guest: in order for speculation to happen, you have to have rising prices in the first place. you did not the speculation taking place in texas or kansas or nebraska or north carolina, even though those areas were rapidly growing in the 200's. the reason you did not see it is there were no land-use restrictions to make house prices go up. in california if you had severe land-use restrictions come as a housing prices rose and speculators jumped into the market. in nevada, the federal government owns 90% of the land. they started limiting land sales in the late 1990's. so house prices started shooting upwards. so spectators jumped into the market. if you did not have land use restrictions, there would be no room for speculated. there would be no attraction to the spectators. the speculator is are more of a
symptom of the problem than the problem itself. host: next caller is from michigan on the democratic line, becky. caller: i'm beginning i should think i ought to quit listening to c-span because i learn something new every day and my head is getting so full of stuff. host: we're glad you are learning something. we don't want your head to explode. caller: on this housing thing, i wonder if your guest -- if i could ask him a question on doing the re-- you know the government has made some of the banks change our loans. for instance, my husband lost his 30-year job and the only other job he could get was minimum wage, which was one-third of his previous income. and we still kept up with our
house pavements, believe it or not, but we spent $20 short for two months in a row and we have threatened to take the house. so we have filled out all this stuff to have them read do it. they said we qualified and sent us all this paperwork and everything. then we get this guy's name that we are supposed to go through, if we have any problems. everything was fine for about a month. and then they started calling again. come to find out, this is chase bank, and there's three different parts of the bank that are calling. and none of them know what the other one is doing. this guy that was telling me they were going to foreclose on my house after david called the guy that is supposed to be in
charge of everything, and he unsaid they have this letter and they're going to foreclose. we were a wreck. he says don't pay any attention to that. he said you are in this program now and that has nothing to do with anything. he said they have nothing to do with it anymore. host: thanks for the call. i'm putting some information up from the home affordable modification program best available for any primary home or rental units. guest: she said her husband does have a job, although it's a lower income job than he had before. he probably qualifies. i sympathize with your plight. i am sure that everything will come out ok, because this program is in effect and is
working for a lot of people. what concerns me is we would not have had the program in the first place -- it is costing taxpayers some money -- if we had not had the land use restrictions. this is something that so few analysts have looked at. a look at housing bubble and said it was caused by low interest rates or by some prime lending. but there was no housing bubble in texas or north carolina. it was because they deniable land-use restrictions. we really need to address the land-use restrictions. the time to do it is now when housing prices are low. host: chapter 15 says -- i put that on the table because
many critics are going to say we need restrictions because it's not only in the homes, is the schools, infrastructure, bridges, roads, we cannot keep building and building without having in the structure to support it. guest: infrastructure is an overblown problem. we don't really have as serious an infrastructure crisis as people claim. we don't have a highway infrastructure crisis. we do have some highway funding problems, but they are considerably exaggerated. the real problem is that people do like to own their own homes. do like to have a house with a yard for their children and pets to play in and gardens. land-use planners, long, planners in my former hometown of portland, oregon, said a target to reduce single-family home ownership to 41% of the region, and it's currently 65% of the region. that's less than tokyo. 45% of the residents of tokyo live in single-family homes. we have planners saying they
want to force people out of their homes, put them in high-density apartments and condominiums and things like that. that's hurting the american dream. host: jim is joining us on the phone from lorraine, ohio. independent line. caller: i disagree with what your guest is saying. yesterday you had on their house prices have dropped 30%, 60%, in many of our major cities. the mess was caused by mortgage companies and banks and wall street and aig. the government bailed them out. how you can sit there and say most of the problems are with land restrictions, with the mess we were in, it's ridiculous. guest: you only have to look in the data that are in my book or
that you can download from a variety of web sites that shell housing prices have dropped tremendously in places like california and florida that have land use restrictions, it's a and not dropped hardly at all in places like texas, north carolina, georgia, but don't have land use restrictions. housing prices in houston, which has no zoning, are higher today than they were in 2008. so we don't see the kind of decline when you don't have the land use restrictions. the restrictions are because the bubble and that caused a financial crisis. host: our guest is randal o'toole. marsha is joining us some inglewood, florida, democratic line. caller: good morning. president obama is focused on we can do better.
i do not hope that or dream that or wonder that. i believe that and i am not even worried. i wish people had less worry. thank you. guest: we have a variety of problems. i think most of our problems are institutional. i think people misperceive the problems. in the 1970's we had a big scare about urban sprawl gobbling up our farmlands. yet all the urban areas in the country only cover less than 3% of the land area of the united states. we have a billion acres of farmland and yet in 1985 the florida legislature passed a law that protect farmland from urban sprawl. that law ended up causing a huge housing bubble that has not created a foreclosure crisis in florida. last year to repeal a bad law will help that from happening again.
we can do better, obama is right. but we must understand the institutions that caused the problem and the problems. host: a tweet -- how do we strike a balance? you cannot just have homes. you have to have schools and sewer systems and other infrastructure to support the homes. and still need farmland. guest: more than a third of the country's farmland. we have a billion acres of farmland. we only grow crops on 400 million acres of it. about 40% of all of our farmlands. so there's lots of farmland. there's a huge surplus of farm land. we grow a crop surpluses we can export every year. there's no shortage of farms. there's a shortage of homes, especially in places like california, where 95% of the people are confined to about 5% of the state because of urban growth boundaries.
there's a shortage of places to build homes. when you drive on in the interstate freeway, you might see a lot of urban sprawl. if you get off the interstate, and we have a tremendous amount of open space and forests and farms in this country, they're not in short supply. host: tom is joining us from ohio on our republican line with randal o'toole of the cato institute. good morning. are you there? caller: yes, i agree a lot with what your guest is saying. i have seen this for the last 40 years. i cannot understand how would you go about -- you look at congress and the senate, with more regulations and everything they come up with, it's always six years later. people think it happens under that president or under that congressman or senator. i really believe if we want change in this country, we have
to get the money out of politics. there's no reason we cannot bring them all on c-span and have them all. that way you can see exactly where they are coming from and what they have done. guest: we have a huge economy. we have a huge government. the average member of congress has about 2 seconds per year to think about how they spent each million dollars they spend. that's not enough time for them to analyze everything. so they end up passing laws they don't read. that causes huge problems of all sorts. i agree with you, that's a major problem. the housing problem, the financial crisis is really a problem caused by states and local governments. often state and local governments following trends, following planning fads' rather than doing what really works best for the american people, which is to let people choose how they want to live, how they
want to get around, and pay for the cost of their. choices their but give them freedom of choice and let them do what they want. host: this is from wall street journal earlier this month -- guest: mental prices are on the rise in places that have land use restrictions like d.c., boston. they're not really on the rise in places that don't have land-use restrictions. in houston, the fastest-growing metro area in the country, rental prices and housing prices are both very affordable. you can buy a decent three-bedroom house for under $60,000 in houston. there are lots of them available. you can buy a brand new three-bedroom house for $110,000 in houston with lots of them available. it's because they don't have land-use restrictions and housing stays affordable.
there's no reason housing has to be unaffordable and less government gets in the way. host: susan is joining us from miami on the democratic line with randal o'toole. caller: good morning. yes, hi. i've become a great fan of c-span lately. i want to address this concept of land restrictions particularly in florida. we have a very finely balanced ecosystem here. we just cannot let people build houses without some sort of restrictions, because it just runs amok. we have tried that before. the everglades cannot survive this. our aquifers cannot survive this. this is not a state where the government can just let people build and build and build without some sort restrictions.
host: thank you. guest: you make a good point, but all the urban development in florida occupies about 10% of the state. most of the everglades is protected by state parks. if people want to protect more land, they could buy land and put it under conservation easily, but there is plenty of land available sphere without impacting the everglades in the aquifers. to say that we should confine people to 10% of the state, when you have one of the 3 or four most heavily populated states, means you are seeing newcomers are not welcome, existing renters can not buy houses, our children cannot buy houses. that is not the american dream, to stand in the way of our
future. host: the book is entitled "american nightmare -- how government undermines the dream of homeownership. this is from drake cinders -- what land use restrictions would you approve of? guest: a buy support local homeowners imposing their own -- i would support local homeowners' imposing their own restrictions. this is how it works in houston, which has no zoning. half of the residential neighborhoods have restrictions. if you live in a neighborhood without restrictions, you are allowed to petition neighbors, and if 75% agree, you can write covenants and restrictions for your neighborhood. if the developer says we think your neighborhood would be more valuable if we changed it, and
we will pay you to change, you can vote to do that. that happens all the time. you get an evolutionary system that responds to demand, rather than government winds and fads. >> your thoughts about the federal housing administration, maintained a stable housing market, has helped lower and middle homes in the market. guest: when you have something like the f.h.a., you actually are creating more instability in the housing market. host: how do they subsidy it? guest: when you have land use restrictions, increases in
demand mean rapid increases in prices. and so instead of housing prices going like this, you see housing prices going like this. and that ends up creating lots of instability. so i don't think we need the t.h.a. homeowners, very low this cans were able to wy homes without the f.h.a. we don't need tanie -- tanie may, freddy -- fannie mae and freddie mac. i think we'll end up with 74%, 75% rates instead of 65%. host: about a trillion dollars in lones. but $739,000 are in delinquency totally $16 billion.
guest: a majority of those homes are in states that have these land use restrictions. if you hadn't had land use restrictions you wouldn't see housing collapse. you look at texas, north carolina and you don't see the collapse in housing prices that you see in florida and california. so if you don't have the land use restrictions. >> we take you live for the capital for remarks by senator charles schumer. >> the senator from new york and new jersey are really elated with the open discussion allowing of amendments and most importantly the strong bipartisan support for a bill that will give much needed relief from the storm sandy. we'll talk about that more in a minute. we are urging the house to put this bill on the floor quickly.
we're asking mr. boehner to do that. it would unconscienable without voting on sandy. and the strong bipartisan support -- we got 12 votes from the republicans. the fact that three democrats that couldn't be here were here. we could have had 64 votes. we still got more than 60 even with those three absences shows how important this bill was, the strong waurn vote gives an impetus to the bill and says to speaker boehner, this bill has bipartisan support not only in the senate but we know in the house. please move it. do not ignore the needs of new yorkers, new jerseyites and
others who have suffered. we have a desperate situation still in new york. we have billions and billions of dollars in damage. we have homeowners waiting, watching to see if this bill would pass so that they could begin to think of getting help to rebuild their homes. we have small business owners, watching, waiting to see if this bill will pass, to see if they can get help to get their businesses going. we have governments both large and small, the state of new york city dwovet -- government and so many others that are waiting to see if they will get some relief sew they can move tor ward with their plans. we beat back host of the crippling amendments. we beat back all of the crippling amendments an most of the amendments -- and most of the amendments. it's a very, very trying day, i think, for the senate.
the century old tradition of different parts of the country rallying to help those that are beleaguered because of the difficult natural disasters continuing and the fact that 12 republicans voted for a bill that contain virtually no offsets except for the one amendment that passed last week. that is a full bill, a whole bill, a bill that gets new york and new jersey rapidly on the road to recovery fills us with hope that we can get something done and get something done quickly. when we press, when we explain to our colleagues what we needed and the desperation in here, they listened carefully. and we're really very, very glad about that. let me say a few specific things. there is very ample cdgg funning. so homers who lost more than $41,000 in their homes can get
relief, so that small business owners who need more than just loans of 6% can get relief. there's ample funding for the core. they have been included. and those projects can begin immediately when this bill passes because they've been authorized and studied. so we're very, very pleased with all of the aid here. a couple of more points -- mitigation is in this bill. mitigation are not new projects that come out of the blue. they're simply building on existing projects to prevent another storm like sandy hit us. it will harden our electric grid and allow lipa to install
storm-proof concrete poles. it will allow our subway system, those underlying tunnels so that the waters won't flood them again. and it will allow our hospitals like n.y.u. and coney island and long beach when they rebuild to make sure that they put those extremely expensive machines on higher floors so god forbid they won't be damaged. this is a very strong bill. sit -- is it everything we asked for? no. but is it a huge shot in the arm if new york is 10% of the national economy? yes, it is. we now need the house to act. we're waiting, hoping, and expecting that we will see some action from our house colleagues. now let me turn it over -- we had a great partnership.
senator menendez had to go back home for a funeral. senator lautenberg has a strong case of the flu and couldn't be here was they're certainly with -- but they're certainly with us in spirit. i want to turn it over to senator gili brand as we rally up the votes and great strategy. >> i want to thank senator schumer in leading this effort and making sure that the entire chamber understood what folks from new york have gone through. both senators lautenberg and senator menendez really made a difference in explaining how hard new jersey was hit. i want to thank our governor for coming down here to talk to the leadership and the senate himself directly. that made a difference. but we've seen so much suffering in new york. there's been so much hardship, so much heartbreak and this is
a very good snep the right direction, beginning to meet the needs of new yorkers, new york families, new york homeowners and new york business owners. this is a very important first step because it will allow the money for homes to start being rebuilt, it will allow the army corps to do their projects and allow small businesses to fix their businesses again. we all rallied to that area of the country that's what we've always done. that's what we asked our colleagues to do. this is a very strong bipartisan vote. we have 12 republicans join us in this bill. i think that sends a very strong signal to the house of representatives to speaker boehner that this is a bipartisan piece of legislation that represent what is' best in america that we as neighbor to neighbor will stand to those who are in need in their time of need.
so i be siege the house of representatives to vote on this bill, an up or down vote. let the house members vote their conscience and know that they can do what's right and stand by those who have suffered gravely. >> i want to thank some people. the appropriations committee did an amazing job. kirsten and i labeled her an engineer. she got this bill passed in record time while her subcommittee chair, senator murry, senator feinstein in particular, senator landry who -- landreau who hoped to be here tonight. i want to thank all the staff who did a great job and all the people from new york who lobbied. we had as kirsten mentioned, the mayor was down here several times and burned up the phone lines and lots of our business and labor leadership. we called on them to make calls particularly to our republican
colleagues and obviously that helped them. ready for your questions. >> do you get the feeling that governor chrissy did enough to push this through the senate? >> well, we're hopeful. i've spoke on the several of our republican colleagues in the house today, yesterday about making sure that -- we have a whole bunch of republican in new jersey. they have the leadership to put this bill on the floor. we're revving up the same new york interest, both elected officials and labor leaders to talk to colleagues in the house to make sure that they will vote for the bill. whenever we called on governor cristy and i spoke to him myself a few times on his cell phone, he was there and did everything we asked. >> this really has been a waupun effort from the beginning. we had a lot of help across the aisle in cracking the bill, making sure there were amendments so people had a chance to vote on what they thought was important to shape
the bill and that bipartisan is what will bring the house leadership to make sure they allow an up or down vote in their chamber. >> so what happens if the house doesn't vote -- >> well, we're hopeful that they will. obviously if the house doesn't vote for it, we hope that the bill will lay very good groundwork that it can do something next year. there was so much bipartisan good will, as i mentioned last time. i went to senator coal -- colburn. he's got a whole bunch of amendments. i said what do you need? i said i have seven amendments. i said, look, put every one of them and give us a time limit so we're not here forever. he agreed. he even agreed to split one
that we thought did fairly well those two pieces together. >> we accepted -- >> we accepted one of them unanimously, exactly. i think there's good will. no one's going to ask that we do the process all over again because the process was a free, open and robust process. we hope it's a metaphor for the way the senate can work next year. we allow amendments. weapon don't block a fwrill going forward. -- we don't block a bill going forward. we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. our goal is to have the house to vote. just as they have a responsibility on fiscal cliff, they have a responsibility on sandy. the fact that this was not a bipartisan bill should give imus to put it on the house. they want to do amendments on the house floor, that's their prerogative. should we give people a first chance before we go to people
twice. >> we're going to introduce it early next year because the tax measures are usually done separately from the appropriations measures. so we'll be introducing it early next year. senator menendez andry on the finance committee and we'll try to do that next year. that's how it's worked in previous disasters. and we'll try to put irene in there too. >> senator mcconnell said they're working on some kind of agreement to avert the cliff later next week. i'm wondering if there's no debt limit provision in this current negotiation whether it's better to make sure the package is small enough that you still have enough pieces to trade with when the debt limit -- >> let me tell you my view and the yor whelming view of democrats. we don't believe we should be trading debt limit for other things. playing with the full faith and
credit of the united states makes no sense. so we ought to do the debt limit on its own. it's money we've already spent. as for what's happening now, i've spoken to leader reid and leader mcconnell on the floor. both agree that it was a very good meeting they had at the white house. there's real potential. as you know we are preparing our bill based on the $250,000 limit to put on the floor monday. but as leader reid has said we await any proposals by senator mcconnell to modify that. >> the republicans have been insistent that they want to use this debt limit as a way -- >> well, as i said, i don't agree with that. we'll see what happens. >> [indiscernible] >> i don't know. and that would be one of the things to be determined. they have a rules committee. and the rules committee can work on an expedited basis if
there was an emergency. if there were ever an emergency, this is one. >> if they try to bring up a smaller version of the bill or something that's offset is that unacceptable or is that better than nothing? >> well, we think that this is the bill that they should -- we would hope that -- they want to do amendments? that's fine. but we would hope they would allow an up or down vote given its broad bipartisan support given what occurred here in the senate. ok. thank you, everybody. have a nice evening. if we don't see -- well, we will see you, i'm sure. happy new year. that's a little silly, isn't it? >> senator schumer and gila brand talking about the bill to aid victims of sandy.
the senate is still in session. you can watch live coverage right now on c-span2. they're going to be in on sunday as well along with the house which is scheduled to be in at 2:00 on sunday. the president met with congressional leaders today at the white house. he says they're optimistic they can reach a deal on the fiscal cliff. next we'll take a look at the possible effects and perhaps to fight hunger in the -- programs to fight hunger in the u.s. >> today, we want to look at the issue of hunger in america. we want to welcome our two guests. caroline rye cliff and alicia coleman jackson dealing with food and hunger. i want to ask you as you look through some of these figures what surprised you the most? what did you learn? guest: well, thanks for having me. just to talk about some of our
main findings our statistics are based on food calendar year 2011 and that's base tond food survey conducted in 2011. we found that about 14.9% households were food insecure. food insecure means they lack consistent food. food insecurity rate in the u.s. is around 14% to 15% since 2008. from 2007 to 2008 food insecurity increased with the resession. it was at 11% prior to the recession. >> let me go to this sub head linebacker here. the 15% of these households being food insecure means they have trouble putting adequate food on the table. the question is why? why do we have hunger in america even in today's day and age? >> we have a number of programs
that target at food insecurity but we have very high poverty rates in the country, high levels of unemployment and this contributes to the levels of food insecurity. host: one of the issues that the first lady has been pushing for is more grocery stores and healthier choices. does that contribute to the problem? are people unable to go to a wal-mart or a superer market because they go to a corner store that have prices that are substantially higher? guest: there are area where is there are difficulties. people getting enough food and access to food which could droibt the -- distribute to the problem. host: what are the major things that we have to deal with? guest: one of them is the
supplement of nutrition assistant program. another is the supplemental nutrition children for women and children, the wic program. the school feeding program, the school breakfast and the school lunch program. >> how many people overall rely on these programs on a regular or daily basis? do you have the numbers? guest: so for the snack program, it's about 47 million individuals. school breakfast, school lunch are smaller programs. the school lunch is bigger. it's about 30 million people. school breakfast is about 10 million and wic is closer to that number. it's about nine million. host: you talk about food insecurity. the households are unable to provide adequate food to one or more household members due to
lack of resources. then you have very low food secure households where the eating pattern were disrupted at times during the year and the food intake were below the levels that are considered appropriate. can you elaborate? guest: yes. these are households that experience food hardship having difficulty putting enough food on the table. maybe their relying on low cost foods or they aren't able to provide balanced meals for their family. the sub category food insecurity which we labeled very low, that's where household members are actually experiencing inadequate food intake. so they might be skipping meals or cutting the size of their meals. in more extreme cases they might be going the whole day without eating. swub in -- someone in the household said they couldn't eat because they couldn't afford more food. host: you focus on consumer
habits. one of the points that came up from research is that the food that we brought just didn't last. we didn't have enough mune to get more -- money to get more. how often does that happen? guest: that's part of the numbers that alicia was showing. what we know is that these programs, the food programs that alicia mentioned have been successful in reducing food hardship among families. there's been some research done on the snap program. that's look at how, in fact, the participating in the program has reduced food insecurity and they found that the program has reduced food insecurity on the order on 20 to 50%. also school breakfast, school lunch looking at children who are participating in these programs and school, that that has reduced food insecurity. and along with the wic program both for the numbers and
infants and children. host: as we look at the topic of hunger in america, we've divided our phone lines. for those of you who live in the central time zones and in the mountain or pacific time zone, the number is 202- 581-3881. we're looking at food insecurity. and very low insecurity. guest: we mentioned that food increased from 2007 to 2008. food insecurity has been relatively stable, 14% to 15%. the red line on the bottom of the graph is very low food insecurity. this is the category of very low food insecurity.
that increased from seven to 2008 -- 2007 to 2008. this green chart on the graph -- or green light on the graph, excuse me, it shows the prevalence or the average annual unemployment rate. and we see that the unemployment rate also we know increased with the on set of the recession and continued to increase while the food insecurity rate remained stable. the safety net kicked in at this time. and some researchers have done research to show that the modest increase in snap benefits helped reduce very low food security among low poverty households. host: we've gone back to 2002 at about 2.5% to 3% to approaching 6% this past year. guest: yes, food insecurity
increased with the recession and we've been measuring food insecurity since 1995. and we're seeing the highest recorded levels since we started measuring. host: you want to follow up? guest: well, i just think so we've seen this increase in food insecurity. we have increases in snap participation. it happened over the same time. so people might say why are both of these -- why do we have food insecurity at record high levels? i would say that this is an issue of need that we had the great recession. we had big impacts on economic security, high -- and lots of instability and unemployment. high unemployment rate. we also had the foreclosure crisis which impacted homeowners but also renters who were in homes that were foreclosed upon. a lot of that instability could
create insecurity along food. host: alisha coleman-jensen who's a scientist at the usda. i want to show this map. as you look at the area in the lighter shade areas most noteingly virginia, -- notably, virginia, new york have less food insecurity. but as you move to the south there is more food insecurity. why? guest: yes, as you can see there is a reege that variation in food insecurity. it ranges from 8% to a high of 19%. here at the commission research has shown that there are factors for households within the state that affect the food insecurity level and also economic conditions at the
state level an -- and state policys that affect it. the unemployment rate varies across the state. the level of education varies. and other factors such as participation in food assistance programs varies across the tate as -- as well as the tax burden, average wages. all of these are factors that affects food insecurity. host: good morning? caller: hi. i am interested. i really admire the w.i.c. program and how there's an emphasis on nutritious food. i was wondering if there is any thought thought with the snap program. guest: there have been some focus in moving towards healthy
foods in the snap program. there are some pilot programs in new york, for example when you buy food at a farmer's market you get the double value of those benefits. so there have been some movements towards that healthier food. there's also been a lot in the demuzz, new york city tried to institute a policy where you couldn't buy soda with the snap benefit and that has not gone forward. we've going to hear more about knew true shouse food with the snap program as well. host: food insecurity will increase as companies lower wages and more people qualify for public assistance. good morning to you.
caller: good morning. i listened to your program about hungry. the people that are hungry are the people that are working minimum wages. but the people on food stamps they're at the super market selling their food stamps $100 for $200 worth of food stamps. and they're kids are hungry. now, why is that? guest: so i mean, there is a big issue with wages in this country. and that you work a minimum wage job and working full time in widge, you'd be eligible for food stamps so that food stamps will help supplement the income of these families. the program is really targeted towards low income families, families below 130% of the federal poverty level. so that would be about $30,000 per year. it really is targeted at these working families.
host: going back to this map that we talked about. one of our viewers sent in this tweet. you look at all households and we've been looking at homes with very low food security about 5%. 15% with low or very low and you can see the highest percent, single mothers with children. guest: yes, that's true. we tirnede that households with children in general are more than with households without children. we find that single mother households with children tend to have the highest prevalence rates of food insecurity. host: it's at almost 37%. guest: exactly in 2011. host: and this is the lowest. still high but about 4%.
guest: they tend to have lower food insecurity. caller: i'm calling to find out do you have the number of households that's getting food stamps broken down by ethnic groups and if you do where do you get your research? where do you get your research? where do you conduct your research? who are your sources? host: thanks for the call. we'll get a response. guest: in terms of food security that our data comes from the current population survey which is the source for unemployment statistics in new york. we survey about 45,000 households per year, and we ask them a range of questions and determine their food security
status based on their responses. host: business knapp program as a photo i.d.? -- a photo i.d.? guest: in new york city, for example, they have this biometric technology, where they think print individuals -- fingerprint individuals to make sure they're not committing fraud. that is been controversial. host: alisha coleman-jensen -- food insecurity by poverty status, 2011 figures. guest: food insecurity is often related to a lack of economic resources, and we find the prevalence is quite high with household incomes below the federal poverty level. host: another tweet -- corn is wasted on making fuel while people are going hungry.
is that part of the problem? guest: i think it is more of an economic issue than a supply issue. we're looking at low income families and resources to purchase the food. host: staten island, new york. caller: i want to not focus on the specifics. i would label many dinos and rinos as cinos, holding to their corporate funders more than people in the state.
guest: i have one point to make there. the food stamp program was in the news during the presidential campaign. there was a lot talk about caseloads going up, and the implication was that these caseloads should be cut and that is a bad thing. what we learn from the great recession is that the snap program is the key safety net program for low-income families, there to support families when there are high levels of unemployment and poverty rates. i would say that these high rates of participation in the snap program are a good thing, and we need a program that is counter-cyclical when the economy goes bad. host: alisha coleman-jensen, what income level qualifies you for snap benefits?
guest: i do not have the exact income level. it is 130% of poverty. guest: a little below $30,000, and it is done on a monthly basis using these annual numbers, about $2,500 a month. host: one of your findings might surprise people looking at a year-long basis. during a 30-day time, it is lower and more chronic during a 12-month basis. guest: the statistics, 15% of households experienced food insecurity for one month, they would be included, and we find
that food insecurity tends to be recurring, but not chronic. most food insecure households are food and secure for several months of the year, on average seven months out of the year. a smaller minority are food insecure for longer. about 8% were food insecure. host: our next caller is keith, florida. caller: good morning, merry christmas and happy holidays. i commend you for the work you are doing. between charities and the government, how many different
food programs are there? you have the boy scouts collecting, the school free lunch, the school free breakfast, and in florida we have food banks that send food home for kids on off days. also, are the poverty rates adjusted for the local areas on the price of living? since the government has gone into the business of fixing the poverty, it seems to a gotten worse. there was a piece about free christmas dinners for people that needed it, and they were driving new cars, but it seems like a lot of people that should it, and in the food system, there used to be things talk about the pyramid of life,
with food first, and it seems to of turned around, and food is left on the list of these households. host: thank you for these points. guest: i think he makes a great point about other programs -- nonprofits, food banks, pantries, soup kitchens. he mentions these programs that are provided where nonprofits are providing resources, and a lot of people who are receiving public assistance are also supplementing that with these other types of food programs. so, the backpack program is one of them, where children who are low-income, the rotary club administers it, working with the family to find out information about allergies, and
food is provided in a backpack on friday for the weekend. they bring the backpack back in on monday. to the second point, poverty is a big issue and the great recession has impacted a lot of families with employment, and you might say there are people that might not need those resources in some of these nonprofits, and there have been discussions about people better lonely going into the soup kitchens, but there is a great need and the great recession has shown us that. host: one of our viewers? if you can comment on the issue of food deserts. guest: that is an issue where
there are fewer places to buy food and it is more difficult for people to get there. it is an issue that has been coming to light and there is more focus on that. host: shirley, iowa. caller: i did not call in about this, but since i know something these ladies evidently do not and should, the ethanol that is made is only used as a sugar, and the rest of the corn is used for livestock feed. one of the things that i've learned years ago is that the government military decided we had to have food cards. we've not had food stamps.
since china and russia went to communism because of starvation, it would be best to keep people who do not have much money. one of the questions that i wanted to ask is you're not giving any costs or payments. let's say, a mother or a child on food cards, how much per month do they get? according to my computer, they would not get enough to eat very well. host: thank you. guest: so, for a family of four, let's say, two adults, two children, the maximum benefit for a family of four would be $670 per month. it is in low-cost diet.
that is why we likely see a lot of use of these programs along with other assistance. the caller is right that it is now the supplemental nutrition assistance program, but these are electronic benefit cards. host: as you deal with these issues, you also deal with obesity because often these families are eating less than healthy food or fast food. guest: that is true. it is complicating when you try to talk about them together. it is important that you remember that many of these food insecure households have a lower quality diets than we might hope, and in some severe cases, households are having reductions in food, relying on
food that might not be healthy. host: this is from twitter -- $90 billion spent on programs, obviously something is not working. guest: we know these programs are reducing food insecurity, as i mentioned, and there have also been worked looking at food insecurity, participation in these programs, and health outcomes. in a large sense, these programs are working. we know that children that are food insecure are more likely to have health problems, iron deficiency and hospital stays. we know that is expensive, and
there has been research done that is really looking at how people got food stamps early in childhood, and they found that children who had food stamps from their earliest time in life, they were less likely to have health problems in adulthood. that is looking at a measure of how bad includes obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, so when we think about these programs and their impact, we need to think beyond today and being hungry but the nutritional content down the road. host: our guests today lifted food insecurity and hunger in america. caroline ratcliffe and alisha coleman-jensen. we are joined from lebanon, oregon. caller: i was never surveyed.
i'm a single mother of one teenaged boy, and we get a little over $1,500 a month in disability. if we did qualify, it would be for about $10 a month. it costs two hundred dollars a month to buy food and gas and clothes for my son. we go to food banks. unfortunately, we cannot control the kind of food they have. a lot of times they're not fresh vegetables.
the person in iowa, i want to let her know that i didn't think there are statistics out there. i am not hearing anything at all. host: do you or your son go to bed hungry at night? caller: we do not because i use every resource there. i ask neighbors, family, and i do whatever i can. i know these teenage years are important for growth, and a lot of things are full of all kinds of crap, excuse my language. host: thank you.
guest: the first point, asking about who we survey, we surveyed about 45,000 households each year. of course, there are many households not serve it, but it is a representative sample. we get a picture based on this sample. her point of having difficulty with accessing the income cutoff is difficult, and i think it is important that we recognize that federal government programs are working with local nonprofits to help families that are just on the margins to help afford the food for their families.
guest: talking about 130% of the federal poverty line, it is simplistic. the rules to become eligible are complex, and as your income goes up, your eligibility goes down. host: this follow-up -- if you are poor, you'd have to spend a lot of energy to get enough to eat. john, connecticut. good morning. caller: good morning. i was calling to mention low- quality food and the cost of health care, but you covered that well. do you think it would be more beneficial if they start doing a local farming program where they could start growing vegetables? maybe have some land with tiles -- cows and chickens, and local people could work on the farming
areas and return the food to the communities as opposed to being so reliant on high-salt diets, the foods we would coin as having a long shelf life, leaving it on the shelf for six months without going bad? has the government been able to look into those programs, considering the finances involved in the program as a whole? host: thank you. a related topic -- the availability of this fresh produce is a big distraction for many. guest: there are some programs that speak directly to the point, one our farms-to-school programs, directed to help know where food is coming from and getting fresher food into the
schools. in addition, we talk about the wic program, which focuses on healthier food, and food. wic packages have revised to focus more on fruits and vegetables. host: jessica, north carolina, good morning. caller: i was going to save something similar to the previous caller. basically making it available for people to use ed farmer markets, so more former markets would open in the urban areas, and have almost like a center each district where they could have a community garden, and people could come trades -- and make trades like for jewelry and stuff like that, and people who need produce could receive the food stamps and that transaction would be approved.
host: thank you for the call. guest: i think getting fresh fruits and vegetables into homes is important, especially for children. in some places, they have been moving to allowing food stamps to be used farmers' markets, doubling the value of them. also, there are a lot of community organizations. and the community level, there are firms where they produce fruits and vegetables and that would go to the food bank and be distributed. host: one last chart to summarize what we have been talking about -- food insecurity among all households, poverty lines and it comes both above and below the poverty line.
guest: food insecurity is higher for households with low income and the low poverty, and there are also households above the poverty line their food and secure. it is to decree related to resources and income, but there are -- food insecure. it is often related to resources in income, but there are other factors, and we have reports that examines the problems of food insecurity among people with disabilities, and that is an important factor that we need to consider. food insecurity could result from a lot of factors. host: caroline ratcliffe, your number one take away? guest: food assistance programs are very important, they should be protected as the country moves forward with the budget and fiscal cliff negotiations
and there are payoffs down the road for expenses today. host: caroline ratcliffe, the urban institute, and alisha coleman-jensen of the u.s. department of agriculture, social science analyst. thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having us. >> tomorrow, we will continue looking at fiscal cliff negotiations and how americans will be affected if the deadline passes. our guest will be joseph rosenberg, followed by a look by presidential campaigning and the influence of the electoral college. then a discussion on hurricane sandy relief funding. we will be joined by dan freed
iedman. all that beginning at 7:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span. ♪ >> if we turn away from the needs of others, we align ourselves with those forces which are bringing about this suffering. >> the white house is a bully pulpit and you ought to take advantage of it. >> obesity is nothing short of a public health conference. >> i think i had little antennas go up that told me when somebody had there an agenda. >> it would be a shame to waste it. >> i think they serve as a window on the past to what was going on with american women. >> she becomes the chief confidante, really any way the
only one in the world he could trust. >> they were writers, journalists, they wrote books. >> they are in many cases more interesting as human beings than their husbands. if only because they are not first and foremost defined and limited by political ambition. >> dolly was socially adept at politically savvy. >> dollar madison loved every minute of it. mrs. monroe he did it. >> they cannot rule without including what women want and what women have to contribute. >> during the statement, you were a little breathy and too much looking down and i think it was a little too fast. not enough change of pace. >> yes, ma'am. >> she is probably the most tragic of all of our first ladies. they never should have married.
>> she made a note in her memoir the said i myself never made any decision. i only decided what was important and when to present it to my husband. you stop and think about how much power that is. it is a lot of power. >> of the battle against cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the disease. >> she transformed the way we looked at these bugaboos and made it possible for countless people to survive and to flourish as a result. i do not know how many presidents realistically have that kind of impact on the way we live our lives very >> just walking around the white house grounds i am constantly reminded about all of the people who have lived there before and particularly all of the women. >> "first ladies," a new series
on c-span, starting presidents' day ferry 18. -- presidents' day february 18. >> the house will be in at sunday at 2:00 eastern time, and congressional leaders met with obama today at the white house. we will bring you his remarks that followed that meeting right after this look at the fiscal cliff. >> how did the meeting between the meeting and congressional leaders go? >> i think it was a meeting where they may be set the framework for getting a deal, a short-term deal to avert tax increases for most americans, to
extend unemployment benefits, and take on a few other things. at this point it is a race against the clock, and it is up to harry reid and mitch mcconnell and the senate to see if they can craft a bipartisan compromise. the president spoke and said if they cannot come up with something in the next couple of days, he wants harry reid to bring a bill to the floor that would at least do what the president wants to do, which is prevent tax increases for people making under $250,000, extend unemployment benefits, etc., and get a vote on it. harry reid has announced he is going to prepare that bill and in the meantime he is trying to reach an agreement with mcconnell that would be a bipartisan bill and help it get through both chambers in time to beat the clock for 2013. >> or any details discussed at the meeting? >> they did go over some outlines of how you could get to
a deal, but the speaker of the house, john boehner, made it only take' he will action if the senate first passes a bill. the president and senate democrats had been asking the thee to vote on the sebill senate passed months ago which the speaker had ignored. the president was -- though he said he was modestly optimistic that they can still reach a deal -- he was still peeved that we are right up against a deadline and congress seems to be serially incapable of doing anything unless they're right up against a deadline, and the president said that has to stop. >> why did that task fall